Referring to a musical in such a way is something I never imagined saying until I heard Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rendition of the life of Alexander Hamilton debuting this month on Broadway. Unlike most musicals, this one is set to hip-hop influenced lyrics, melodies and music. Instead of the stuffy Old-English speak commonly used in the late 1700’s America, this play uses contemporary language to tell the compelling story of Hamilton’s rise to the Halls of Congress and his eventual death. The lyrical wordplay is nothing less than genius in its ability to craft the intricate tale of Hamilton’s life and ambitions. The tale is moving with emotions from passion to shock to glory and sadness at times, all while giving insight into the gritty story of this nation’s founding. I gained much due respect for Alexander Hamilton, as this play is a good promotional tool to elevate his legacy, but it also portrays his nemesis, Aaron Burr, in a favorable light. While the story takes some shine off of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the only true villain is King George of England.
The satisfaction I get from hearing this tale is in the knowledge that Hip Hop has permeated the World’s culture to a degree that a show like this, can debut to rave revues and be sold out until January 2016, mainly based on the style of the presentation, which is Hip Hop. As a True Hiphoppa, I was compelled to listen to the whole 2-hour production after hearing just the first 10 minutes. To see if you’ll like it I suggest you do the same below. Thanks to NPR’s First Listen and Frannie Kelley for posting it.
As writer Frannie Kelley states in the NPR piece, “Listening-only is how Hamilton will be experienced by most people.” This is because the cheap seats are $50 with premium seats over $350. Still, Hamilton is an excellent listen with over two albums worth of music that’s at least 70% good hip-hop, with a couple of more traditional Broadway-pop sounding songs thrown in. If you haven’t decided to listen yet, I definitely recommend it.
And I guess the main reason I liked the play so much, is that it reaffirms something that I’ve believed for a long time. That is that the language format of Hip Hop speak is a better tool for education than mainstream American speech. The tone and points of concentration in a Hip Hop lesson connect more with the listener because it leaves in the rawness and clarity of unrefined manners and takes out the pretentiousness of polite speech and unnecessarily flowery rhetoric. Hip Hop has a way of telling a story with more grit and gristle left in for people’s consumption. I believe people like grit and gristle in their stories. To me it makes them more believable and realistic.