“We all have the potential to do whatever we want”

Biniyam Schelling is a 20-year-old musician from north-east Helsinki: a promising talent signed up with the same record company as Noah Kin and Ronya, among others. Biniyam makes wide-ranging and experimental rap music, which finds one of its sources of inspiration in Helsinki and its residents.

Biniyam’s mother is from Germany and his father is from Ethiopia.

“My parents’ love for Helsinki sometimes makes me wonder. It reminds me of what a great place this is.”

Biniyam believes that Helsinki is an honest, stylish and authentic city, but that more should be made of its personality. However, he also feels that Finns are trapped under a sort of glass ceiling which prevents them from daring to be ambitious enough.

“It’s all about mindset. We have the education and potential to do whatever we want.”


Inspired by urban rap at youth centre

Biniyam went to secondary school in Pukinmäki, where the local youth centre was the place to go for urban rap. Biniyam, who began making music at the age of 16, hopes that his example has inspired his old school friends.

“I think that people at my old school in Pukinmäki are proud of me. I’ve heard that the teachers are happy that someone from our school can go on to do something like this.”

Although Biniyam was born in Helsinki and raised in Kokkola, he is viewed in Finland as an immigrant. He believes that, through his own example, it is important to project an image of immigrants that makes things easier for those who come after him.

“Since I’m perceived as an immigrant, I see myself as having special responsibility for how I behave. My behaviour will have an impact on how immigrants are viewed in general. That’s why I want to create a more positive image of immigrants through my example.”

We are sure to hear more about this young man in the future.


Text and pictures: Siiri Mäkelä



Biniyam Schelling chose Mira Korhonen as a maker of the Helsinki of the future.