Chapter 3 – Musical (African) Americanization: Strategic Essentialism, Hybridity, and Commerce in Aggro Berlin
This chapter develops the theme of postcolonial hybridity as it relates to double consciousness in the historically charged context of post–Cold War Berlin. The chapter tracks the work of Aggro Berlin recording artist B-Tight (Robert Edward Davis), the son of an African American serviceman and an ethnically German mother. Beginning at a concert in the city’s Columbiaclub, the chapter examines the ways that hip hop’s performative musical structures activate a racial dialectic that implicates B-Tight and his multiracial German public. The chapter examines more troubling valences of doubleness on B-Tight’s track, “Der Neger,” to pivot to the second pillar of the book’s argument and investigate the commercialization of blackness with the heuristic frame of “(African) Americanization.” In so doing, the chapter considers the postcolonial situation of Turkish-German Gastarbeiter (guestworkers) as well as the legacy of American occupation in these transactions.
Chapter Keywords: Berlin, Cold War, Gastarbeiter, Besatzungskinder, Turkish Germans, B-Tight (Robert Edward Davis), Aggro Berlin (Record Label), hybridity, blackface, lynching
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Columbiaclub (once the Columbia Cinema) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.
B-Tight on stage at Columbiaclub (stage right) with audience encouraging him on (photo by the author).
B-Tight, “Der Neger”
CD cover for Aggro Berlin’s Anklage Fünf (left to right: Sido in his signature chrome skull mask, B-Tight, Tony D, G-Hot, and Fler) (thanks to Aggro Berlin for permissions).
Blackface minstrelsy–themed cover art for B-Tight’s single “Neger Neger.”
Comic book–themed album art for Tony D’s Totalschaden.
Album art for Neger Neger. Image of racialized self-amputation in a promotional photo for B-Tight.
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Bonus Material (not in the book!)
Erci-E, “Weil ich ein Türke bin”
Chefket, Megaloh, and Amewu absolutely killing it on the track “Live MCs”