International humanitarian law asserts that children's rights must be respected during armed conflict. Despite that, some 300,000 children are currently fighting worldwide. The photo exhibition “Forced to be cruel” -- part of the Global Media Forum in Bonn -- highlights these children's fates. At the opening, German-Afghan rapper Angry Teng performed his newest song “Children to Men”.
Rapper Angry Teng at an exhibition on child soldiers
Fast talk, break beats and scratching – that’s rap. That’s hip hop. That’s Angry Teng. "I started playing the piano when I was a really young child like six", says the Rapper. "I stopped playing music for four years and only consumed music."
That was when he first came into contact with German hip hop. "I started rapping when I heard some of the new German rappers like Cool Savage. Right now, I couldn’t even think about not rapping."
From metal to hip hop
But hip hop was not number one from the start: “I started listening to metal. That was really the first genre I listened to. When I was twelve I started. Grew my hair long. Got a nice jeans jacket with all that patches on it and everything."
Over the years, he started listening to more and more hip hop and different styles such as jazz and a little bit of electro. But in the end it was hip hop that really attracted him. “And that’s about it.”
Now, his earlier affection for heavy metal still influences his songs, creating a special style of German hip hop -- different from the more mainstream gangster hip hop.
Too scared to be bored
“I think what you can say about hip hop albums in general is that most of them work in the same way. You have two songs about women, you have two songs about clubbing, you have two songs about that you are the best, you have one song about how much you love music and to prove it you have to write lyrics about is and that’s about it. That bores me,” he laughs.
For Angry Teng, hip hop has to have a message. He likes songs with stories -- especially scary ones. He still loves horror, ghost stories and all kind of myths from the time when he was a small child. “That has just carried on through my life. You could argue that maybe my normal life is too boring so I have to go to horror to have some excitement but I just like to be scared.”
And scared he was when he saw Peter Mantello’s pictures of children forced to be soldiers. Peter Mantello came to him to write a song for the exhibition he was preparing to present at the Global Media Forum in Bonn.
Angry Teng agreed immediately: “This is a really interesting and important topic. Around the world; not only in third world countries but also in countries like the UK, young people must fight. It's a very traumatic thing and you definitely should not let that happen to anybody, especially not to young people that have all their life ahead of them, which they should enjoy instead of fighting other people.”