Rapping the Way to Revolution

Hamilton: An American Musical 
Credit: Thomas Kail

Thomas Kail

Hamilton: An American Musical Credit: Thomas Kail

Meleah York, Staff Writer

When reading a biography about Alexander Hamilton, specifically one by a man named Ron Chernow, you wouldn’t expect to think “Hey, I should make this founding father’s story into a rap and hip-hop musical!” Yet that’s exactly what was running through Lin-Manuel Miranda’s head.

Hamilton: An American Musical is gaining fame worldwide with its diverse cast and fast-paced, modernized telling of America’s least remembered founding father. A writer and lyricist, Miranda spent six years creating this musical, from each Cabinet (rap) battle to every heart-wrenching melody. Surprisingly, this musical is very historically accurate, with the exception of minor details changed for dramatic effect. The musical is linked together by conversations recited to beats throughout; the craftsmanship of every scene and the complexities of each verse are mind-blowingly fluid and perfectly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of the Treasury and influenced the young country with his writing. He founded our country’s financial system, wrote the Federalist Papers to promote the U.S. Constitution, and fought in the Revolutionary War. Hamilton was an abolitionist and the “right hand man” to George Washington before and after the war, making incredible headway in first developing the nation we live in today. He was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804.

In the musical, Burr is the one guiding you through Hamilton’s story of how he got to New York, how he changed America, and how his writing was key in establishing his reputation as a crucial founding father. One of the most attractive qualities about Hamilton is the amazing diversity of the cast. American history is, as we all know, tragically whitewashed. Hamilton pushes the boundaries of traditional musical casts and themes and “tells the story of the America in the past with the America of today,” which is an array of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Miranda himself is Puerto Rican and played Alexander Hamilton in the original Broadway cast. The majority-person of color cast shows what America really is today, not filled with old, white slave owners, but with young people of all colors that are ready to change their world for the better.

I’m going to admit right here, right now that this is the best musical soundtrack I have ever listened to (though most of you may not dissect it as thoroughly as I have). I highly suggest that you give it a listen because as a teenager and lover of modern music, this is something that will get stuck in your head and make you want to dance like crazy. And hey, you’ll learn some history along the way! Trying to give you an excuse to listen to it, APUSH kids…

This musical is a revolutionizing change to the Broadway community, and listening to the brilliance and lyrical genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton will make you feel like you’re a part of this extraordinary movement.