Chapter 4 – Heiße Waren: Hot Commodities, “Der Neger Bonus,” and the Commercial Authentic
This chapter, the second in a pair of Berlin chapters, elaborates the book’s examination of hip hop “commerce.” It begins with an historical examination of the cultivation of authenticity in black music, tracking W. C. Handy’s early codification of blues form, first in European musical notation and then in the emerging recording industry that commodified black musical authenticity for the masses. From this background, It turns to examine continuities in the 2004 mixtape Heiße Ware (Hot Commodity), featuring B-Tight (Robert Edward Davis) and his Lebanese-Berliner label mate, Tony D (Muhamed Ayad). The analysis takes as its subject the performance of violently “hot” and misogynistic, nonwhite gangsta masculinities on the mixtape and examines the ways that the commercial product was designed to be “excessive” from its conceptualization to its performance and its marketing. The chapter thus tracks the record label’s cultivation of a “commercial authentic” in counterpoint with an unexpected continuity with the German press’s reception of the historic visit of then-candidate Barack Obama to Berlin in the summer of 2008.
Chapter Keywords: Aggro Berlin (record label), gangsta rap, authenticity, culture industry, Barack Obama, B-Tight (Robert Edward Davis), Tony D (Muhamed Ayad), masculinity, gender, misogyny
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B-Tight and Tony D, “Der Araber und Der Neger”
Album art for Hei
Cover features of Barack Obama’s July 2008 visit to Berlin: (Left) Zitty, July 17, 2008 (“I’m black! And that’s a good thing!”); (Right) Der Spiegel no. 30, July 21, 2008 (“Germany meets the Super Star”).