A few weeks ago, I introduced a weekly feature for my blog, the “What I’m ____” Wednesday. Last week, I was out of town and the week before that…well, I just forgot. But I really wanted to get this one done because of the timing. On Monday, many of us celebrated the 4th of July. To coincide with the celebration of America’s independence from the British Empire, I wanted to write about Hamilton. Hamilton, for those who don’t know, is a Broadway hip-hop musical based on the life of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. So why hip-hop? Well, to paraphrase LMM a/k/a Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of Hamilton and the actor who plays the titular character), Hamilton wrote his way out of poverty much like the hip-hop and rap artists of today do.
The fact that LMM relates American history to rap and hip-hop and makes it fun is just one of the many things I love about it. The diversity of the Hamilton cast is another huge selling point. LMM is Puerto Rican, and most of the main cast members are people of color. (Actually, I think they all are? I’m running through a mental list right now…yeah, I think they are.) Now, I decided to get some help with this post by asking some of my equally-obsessed friends what they love about it, and here’s what they had to say.
Leslie, who just blogged about Hamilton herself over at Geeky Girl Guide, said this:
I love that fact that people that look like me are up there. AND IT IS SO CATCHY AND MAKES ME HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE. Ever since listening, at least once a week I’m googling facts (this week’s fact finding mission: have they ever exhumed Hamilton’s body? maybe he had his letters buried with him). Ships and Guns is my fave. LMM is my favorite. He’s adorable and reminds me of a little kid. As witnessed by my page.. I’ve recruited…a lot lol.
She really has. She listens to it whenever she can and she’ll post a random quote on Facebook which then turns into an entire conversation about the joys of Hamilton and often ends up with at least one person being converted. P.S. Guns and Ships is my favorite too. I adore Daveed Diggs who plays Marquis de Lafayette in Act One and Thomas Jefferson in Act Two.
My friend Marie, who is the only person I know that has been lucky enough to actually SEE Hamilton, expressed similar opinions about the diversity and about LMM himself.
The variety and diversity of the cast is huge for me. I’ve loved musicals my whole life, and even though theater is better about range than movies and television, it’s still very much catered to a white audience with mostly white performers. To see performers that looked like me and people I know telling the story of America’s birth is fucking huge. I loved In the Heights and 21 Chump St [other musicals written by LMM], so I came in knowing I was going to like it but it still blew me away. And the battle of the immigrant, to fight so hard for the adopted country you love, even while it tells you to go back where you came from, is still so resonant today. I’m so excited every time someone tags me or texts me to tell me they started listening to it because of me. I’m not religious but flying to to NYC to see it and then going to A. Ham’s house and graveyard was a spiritual experience and the closest I’ll ever get to making a pilgrimage. I got to meet LMM for a second and it was a beautiful sweet second, the man looks at you like a long lost friend returned.
He really is the poster child for ‘puppy dog eyes’. He’s so kind-hearted and genuine and truly appreciates all of the love he and his crew have been getting. And after seeing Marie talk about the diversity aspect with such passion, I now think of her every time I hear the line “Immigrants, we get the job done!” in Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down). (My daughter and I do the high five after that line. She used to roll her eyes at me whenever I’d listen to the soundtrack, and now she listens to it on her own without any prompting from me. In fact, we had a 3-hour drive last week and I let her pick the music…guess what she picked!)
I know there are still quite a few people who haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet, so I also asked if there was anything stopping anyone from listening to it. Not a fan of musicals? Don’t like things that have a lot of hype surrounding them? I can understand both of those. The only musical I’ve ever really liked is Grease and I’m very much an anti-bandwagon person. In fact, if I hadn’t happened to catch Hamilton on sale for 99 cents on Google Play, I don’t know if I would’ve purchased it anytime soon. And even after I did, it took me several weeks to finally get around to listening to it.
Christina hasn’t listened to it yet, and here’s her explanation
I haven’t listened to it. Mostly because I’m distracted by other stuff (personal and current events), but I do plan to. Tbh I feel like there are a million things going on and therefore it’s hard to zero in deeply on one thing, even if it’s huge right now. Hamilton is coming to Chicago and I didn’t even have the energy to try to get tickets (looooooong lines, tied up internet, $8k tickets, etc.) so I’ll end up seeing it on tv, which is fine with me…I will say that when Hamilton got big, I did a lot of research on Alexander Hamilton, which was fascinating and made me branch out into a lot of other areas to look into.
It’s definitely something that you need to sit and listen to without too many distractions. It’s not something you can just put on in the background. If you do plan to listen, do it when you’re cooking or driving or just relaxing. It’s pretty long and there are a lot of songs that tie in, so you’ll hear something in the middle of disc two that goes back to something that was mentioned at the beginning of disc one. Also, it’s not something you can listen to just once. After you get through it the first time and you’ve had some time to recover, you’re going to want to go through and listen again. (Note: Make sure you’ve got tissues ready when you start disc two.)
And to think it all started here, at a White House Poetry Jam in 2009
And that’s just some of what I’ve been listening to lately. What do you think? Are you #Ham4Ham too? Or have you not caught Hamilton fever yet? If you have, who’s your favorite character, what’s your favorite part, etc?