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Local Rapper Encourages ‘Greatness’ in Youth with Newest Video

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DES MOINES, Iowa - A local artist is spreading a national message.

"No matter how people try to get you away from doing what you want to do in your life, you always stick and stay forward," he said. "Just be positive and stay strong."

Will Keeps is a rapper from Chicago. He moved to Des Moines, and now makes music videos with messages of unity and positivity. In March, he collaborated with the Des Moines Police Department on a video promoting peace and compassion between police officers and the black community.  He hopes his newest song, "Greatness," teaches kids in Des Moines to take the high road in times of hardship.

"I want the kids to show their greatness; it don't have to be with singing or with music, it can be anything with sports or books, or want to be an actor - I don't care, I want them to show their greatness," he said.

Friday, Keeps worked with students at Harding Middle School to shoot the music video for 'Greatness.' While he had no way of knowing the tragedies that would unfold across the country this week involving police officers and members of the black community losing their lives, he says the message of this song is timely.

"Justice needs to be served when it comes down to every one of those situations - every one of those situations," he said. "I want these kids to understand that there's a right way to do things. To learn that, there are people out there that will hurt you, no matter if it's police officers or if it's people from your own race! There are people out there who will try to destroy you. The song Greatness is saying, 'Look, you can't do that to me! I won't let you!'"

The kids he's working with seem to get that message; some reflected today on the recent shooting in Dallas, where five police officers lost their lives.

"That people shouldn't shoot the police officers, because they're making a protest about police officers not shooting us, but then they go and shoot the police officers," said Caliyah Smith, an 8th grader at Harding Middle School.

School officials say it's role models like Keeps who keep these kids on the right path.

"We don't judge people, we are working together, we're working to make our community better," said Harding Middle School Principal, Joy Linquist. "And Will has sent that message to our students."

Keeps will tell you, he's done talking; he's doing something about the change he wants to see in the world.

"And I am pissed off about what happened, but I am ready to show everybody that, 'Look, we have to move forward, and we have to do it the right way, if we want anything to change,'" he said.

Keeps has started his own movement to urge peace and community between police forces and the black community.