Frank Raney Jr. was going to move to California. He had just released a rap album and he was going to pursue his music career. He was starting his own clothing line.
Instead, he died July 8. He was shot and killed about 6 a.m. in southeast Kansas City, near Bannister Road and McGee Street. He was 24 years old.
Raney was one of 84 people killed in homicides in Kansas City so far in 2017. The city has seen 50 percent more killings than it did in the same period in 2016.
Kansas City police have announced no arrests in the case and released no information about suspects. Raney’s death leaves friends and family grieving a young man they called a dreamer, a jokester and a cornball. They thought he had a bright future.
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Performing as FrankieBTW, Raney had just released his first album, “Papi Chulo,” on iTunes in March. Those close to Raney believed he was on his way to success.
“He just did not give up on his dreams,” said his mother, Lanita Raney. “I loved that about him. Entrepreneurship was definitely in his blood.”
Born and raised in Kansas City, Raney graduated from Center High School. He grew up playing football and basketball before turning his attention more to the arts: music, drawing and writing, according to his mother. Raney’s younger brother followed him into football and music.
Raney wrote a script for a movie that he wanted to shoot with his friends, a tight-knit group mostly raised by single mothers. In school, the group jokingly labeled themselves “The Cool Kids,” writing the phrase in pen on their arms.
Not known for being in trouble, Raney was popular at school, even among the teachers and security guards, according to those who knew him.
“He was a jokester. A silly guy, a goofy kid,” his mother said.
After high school, Raney spent a semester at Metropolitan Community College before leaving to focus on his music. Within three years, he produced two mixtapes and his first album.
In 2016, Raney traveled to California to shoot music videos, and planned to relocate there for his career.
But even as he became increasingly busy with his music, Raney made time to visit his 93-year-old grandmother, and to help a grandfather from another side of the family who had suffered a stroke, Lanita Raney said.
Raney had recently started learning how to cook, and often called his mother late at night with questions about recipes.
One longtime friend from high school, Taylor Robins, said she was surprised and impressed with Raney’s music.
“He was good,” Robins said. “It was weird, because he had a tendency to be shy. I was really excited to see where he was going to go, because he was going somewhere.”
Robins said she last saw Raney in June, when she was in town for the funeral of another friend who had been killed in a shooting.
The two talked about Raney’s music and their plans for the future.
“Our last conversation was very encouraging,” she said. “He was a dream chaser. He was a dream encourager. We’re all going to miss him.”