If you’re reading this (a blog article about Hamilton), chances are you have probably heard of and/or listened to Hamilton: An American Musical. If you haven’t, by the time you’re finished reading this you’ll probably want to. Hamilton is a (fairly) new entirely hip-hop and rap musical about the Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, that has taken the world by storm. I know, I know, not many people would think that hip-hop, rap, and Alexander Hamilton go together very well. At first, I thought it sounded really weird (and quite frankly, stupid). However, if you asked Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator, composer, and original star, he would say differently. And if you ask me, the musical as I’ve come to see is a work of true brilliance.
Why you may ask? I think that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ability to think outside the box and combine this modern musical genre with this not-so-modern person made a very historic story suddenly relatable. Turning the story of a man born in 1789 into a hip-hop musical broke the time barrier by bringing it into the current century. By making the seemingly ancient story appear in a way audience members of this time would recognize and relate to it is brilliant. Miranda read Hamilton’s biography and immediately thought this story needed to be told. Hip-hop was the perfect way to do that because it was a “hip-hop story”. Miranda equates Hamilton to Jay Z or Eminem, comparing the essays to these rappers writing lyrics in their notebooks.
Miranda skillfully fit such a large amount of information into a 3-hour musical that contains more words than some Shakespeare plays. The play is truly a summary of the life of an outspoken man who wrote “thousands of pages of writings”, as well as the lives of those around him. His genius musical form coupled with expert libretto captures so well the essence of each character, each event in their recurring musical motives, and in the life mottos, he chose to represent each character.
Lin-Manuel Miranda thought that Alexander Hamilton’s story was one that simply had to be told to an audience. Who would have ever thought that he was so right? Hamilton’s life and death are so extraordinarily poetic and rich with life lessons. In hindsight, it seems it was begging to be told, and almost inevitable that Miranda’s play would become such a sensation.
To learn more about Hamilton: http://www.hamiltonbroadway.com/