What Makes 'Hamilton' the Best Musical for Our Generation.
by Emery C.
“I mean come on, Angelica Schuyler going toe-to-toe with Nicki Minaj? Thomas Jefferson dropping bars like Slim Shady? “
I’m a ‘90’s kid which, in my opinion, is hands-down, the best decade to have had your childhood. We are the up-and-comers; the future leaders of our nation and the world. So, among all of the drama and struggle that the world is going through, there’s one thing that brings us together: music.
Over the past month I have been unapologetically obsessed with ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ written by none other than the eloquent Lin-Manuel Miranda. Don’t believe me? Watch his acceptance speech from the 2016 Tony Awards.
I have never been a major history buff. In fact, I had to repeat U.S. History in high school. So how did a Broadway musical drive me to learn the history behind the American Revolution, and inspire my now in-progress historical fiction novel about America’s first great sex scandal (ahem, The Reynolds Pamphlet)? The music.
“We are the up-and-comers; the future leaders of our nation and the world. “
‘Hamilton’ tells the story of America’s first Secretary Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The intro tune alone tells his childhood history as an orphan raised in the Caribbean, and his journey to New York. From then on, each song pans out his life; meeting his “frienemy” Aaron Burr, his battle buddies, becoming George Washington’s confidant, meeting his wife, making his way into politics, and eventually his death. I don’t want to give too much away, but you can stream the Original Cast Album on Spotify for the full effect.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was somehow capable of capturing this history lesson in Hip-Hop and R&B music perfectly. Even if you’re not a fan of rap music, it’s more than just grown men and women spitting rhymes. There’s emotion, heart, and soul throughout every song. It’s unlike any musical you’ve ever heard before. I didn’t grow up in a family that appreciated the theater, but being in fine arts programs throughout high school and college opened up my eyes to a world of storytelling I didn’t know existed. For those people out there who aren’t immersed in the arts like I am, ‘Hamilton’ is still an experience that will change your life.
Even if you’re one of the poor unfortunate souls like me who can’t make it out to a Broadway show, the soundtrack is good enough. Lucky for us, PBS will be airing a recorded version with the original cast this fall. There will even be a mix-tape of the musical released. A mix tape! What other musical have you heard of can successfully do that?!
“There’s emotion, heart, and soul throughout every song. “
Another perk of this great cast and ensemble is that a majority of its members are people of color. Yes, imagine the founding of our country being placed in the hands of Latinos, African-Americans, and people of mixed race. It’s glorious. I mean come on, Angelica Schuyler going toe-to-toe with Nicki Minaj? Thomas Jefferson dropping bars like Slim Shady? That alone should make you want to listen, and after, you’re going to want to read up on details of people you may have never even heard of (someone get me an #AndPeggy beanie immediately).
Yes, Les Miserable, Rent, Chicago, The Color Purple, Dream Girls, etc. are some of my favorite soundtracks to listen to. They all tell incredible stories surrounding the lives of impeccable characters who teach us valuable lessons, but not many of them take the facts of our nation’s history, and apply them into terms that our generation uses and understands. Not to mention it applies to everything that is happening in our world today.
If you haven’t yet, listen to this soundtrack and absorb its information. Stream it, download it, YouTube it, whatever you need to do to get this cultural experience. Allow yourself to listen. That would be enough.