“I’m actually working on a hip-hop album – a concept album – about the life of someone who embodies hip-hop… Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.”
This is how Lin-Manuel Miranda introduced his first public performance of a “Hamilton” song May 12, 2009, which he executed *at the White House in front of the President.*
He was invited to the East Room that night to perform a song from his musical “In the Heights” for “An Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word” program. Instead, he did this:
Do you need a second? Cool, me too.
The Tonys are this Sunday (7 p.m. CST on CBS) and I think a lot more people are going to be watching this year. Which is great for a lot of entities – CBS, “Hamilton,” the Tonys – but beyond awards and ratings and the cheesy, but hilarious opening number we know James Corden will deliver, it’s an astounding accomplishment.
Eyeballs of all kinds of people are going to be turned to the same screen. And they’re not going to be watching football.
They’re going to be watching and crossing their fingers and cheering for a show that celebrates an immigrant coming to this country and shaping our nation, even though they may not support a path to citizenship and may have slept through every day of history class.
They’re celebrating a show that is self-described by its creator as “a love letter to hip-hop,” even though they may detest Kendrick Lamar.
They’re celebrating theater, even though they may have never seen a musical in their lives.
This show – all 46 songs, 2 hours and 55 minutes of it – combines history, hip-hop and theater flawlessly. And, in doing so, creates a common ground between people who enjoy any combination of the three.
What’s the thing that’s not in the world that should be in the world?
In a September 2015 interview with Grantland, Miranda described his writing process as follows, “It’s interesting, I think of it as, ‘What’s the thing that’s not in the world that should be in the world?’”
There are a lot of ways to answer that question. Miranda chose to write a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton.
How will you answer?
(Don’t throw away your shot.)
If you’ve gone #Ham4Ham or you’re interested in reading more about the revolution, below are some recommendations:
- Jeffrey Brown of PBS’ Interview with Miranda
- The Wall Street Journal’s Hamilton Rhyme Algorithm
- Slate’s track-by-track guide of all the hip-hop references in “Hamilton“
- Genius also made a video about classic rap references in Hamilton
- And, of course, “Hamilton: The Revolution” co-written by Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
And for those of you still not convinced “Hamilton” is worth your time, please see the following list of stats:
- “Hamilton” is nominated for a record-breaking 16 Tony Awards
- It won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
- The cast album debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Rap albums chart
- The album was also ranked No. 2 on Billboard’s “25 Best Albums of 2015” and No. 8 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2015”
Finally, if you’ve read this far and haven’t listened to the album yet, do yourself a favor and click here.
And if you don’t know, now you know.