MIKE BOCKOVEN

Recommendation – The Hamilton Soundtrack

Nov
25

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I thought I was late to the party on this one. Turns out, in an unofficial poll of my friends who like musicals, I might be right in line for once.

“Hamilton” is currently the hottest ticket on Broadway, if not the world (that JK Rowling thing may be ahead of it a smidge). If you want to see Hamilton, bring $500 and 9 months because that’s how much tickets start at and that’s how long the show is sold out. It’s a show that both Barack Obama and Dick Cheney have seen and raved about. If that’s not a ringing endorsement…

In a nutshell, “Hamilton” is a musical about the life of founding father and $10 bill model Alexander Hamilton told primarily using hip hop, by African American actors and singers. I’ve listened to the soundtrack all the way through a couple times and have determined three main reasons why the show is so popular and critically acclaimed.

1) The fact that minorities are telling the story of the lily white Founding Fathers and no mention is made of it in the text of the show is a term paper waiting to happen.

2) By framing the Founding Fathers/Revolutionaries using the language and music of youth, “Hamilton” paints them as they were at the time – young, brash, bad ass radicals.

3) There’s something incredibly satisfying about hearing talented and skilled rap and hip hop artists turn their attention to specific historical events. Example, from “Right Hand Man” where George Washington is rapping about the losses at the beginning of the revolution and how it’s disspiriting to his troops.

Boom goes the cannon, watch the blood and the shit spray and
Boom goes the cannon, we’re abandoning Kipp’s Bay?

4) The music is so good it’s hard to really get into without…well, writing a term paper. I’ll return to “Right Hand Man” and tell you that it’s not only a fine and powerful Broadway style musical number that encorporates up front rap sensibilities, but in 5 minutes it covers an incredible variety of topics and ends up tying them together in a package that shouldn’t work for a split second. But it does and in doing so inspires and enlightens and gives you a perspective on the Founding Fathers you never had and stirs the blood of every red-blooded American and manages to be a bit cheeky and so much more. Seriously, you have to hear it.

And seriously, I could go on and on and on. There’s a Mod rock style ballad sung by King George to the Colonies (You’ll Be Back), a rumination on power more potent and telling than most political books I’ve read (The Room Where It Happens), a tender scene between husband and wife where they each lie to each other in that way that only spouses can (Best of Wives and Best of Women) and the duel you know is coming handled in a way that can only be described as Shakespearean. While rapping. GOD THIS SOUNDTRACK IS SO FREAKING GOOD!

Last thing – I’m not the audience for this. I don’t own a hip hop album if you don’t count the Beastie Boys. But I am so in love and obsessed with the music from this show, and while I’ll never see it (come on, 2016!) the soundtrack is more then enough to hold me over.

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