Generally, I like rap. When it comes to music, I try to keep an open mind. I listen to everything. I pay attention to its creative process and business turn out. Some rap, I can understand. Eminem was a big thing in my teenage years, and he rapped some relatable things with catchy hooks. Some of my favorite artists also occasionally rap. It’s only when it comes to K-Pop I cringe whenever I hear rap. K-Pop has this habit of putting rap into EVERYTHING and I’ve never stopped asking why. And then fate hooked me up with Hamilton.
I’d heard of Hamilton for a while, but never checked it out. It intrigued me that there was even a crossover fanart of Hamilton and Star Wars, which is really weird. At the same time, I was also watching tons of Broadway shows as references for my own musical. I guess it was time for me to see Hamilton.
The first thing I did was download the cast album from Apple Music. Right from the very first line, my mouth gaped open. I thought, oh maybe they’re only going to rap for the first verse. Boy, how I was wrong. They rap their way out the ENTIRE show. How is it even possible? This whole musical is rap and hip-hop! Something I’d never expected to be spawned out of a Broadway show.
Not only Hamilton broke its way out of the old-age Broadway formula, the whole production is great too. I became obsessed with Hamilton in lightning speed. Until today, I’m still obsessed with it. I’ve had experienced Hamilton for hours and hours, and still I can’t get enough of it. There’s a million things I haven’t learned about it. The stage production, the storytelling, the research, the music production, the lyrics writing, and the character development.
Hamilton is a hit EVERYWHERE.
The great annotation project from Genius has helped me a lot in deconstructing Hamilton. Genius analyzed the show through historical, production, literature, and musical lenses. I didn’t even know that you can display character development through their rap lines, as seen on Lafayette (performed by Daveed Diggs). Lafayette is a Frenchman with stuttering English, but as he becomes closer with his American allies, his English gets better and suddenly he has the fastest rap lines in Hamilton. Then there’s also Hamilton himself. They show him as a brilliant man, a wordsmith, by giving him relatively more sophisticated rap lines than his mates. I can feel I’m failing as a writer already.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton in 7 years. The cast is perfect. Their performances are perfect, their vocals and raps are amazing. I have spent my time obsessing over each and everyone of them. Hamilton has opened my eyes to the poetry that is rap. I was introduced to a whole new world of wit and creativity, and how it can collaborate with other forms of art. Hamilton shows me how rap can tell stories, protests, debates, and inner voices. I’ve been trying to learn more about rap ever since. And black music too in general. I’ve been listening to Raleigh Ritchie a lot, even though he doesn’t rap much. I’ve taken a little taste of Kanye West’s latest album, and am going to listen to his whole discography. The one I really have to pay attention to is Kendrick Lamar and I’m still looking for the right time for it. I have a feeling he’s going to blow my mind. Once it happens, he’s gonna consume my attention like hell.
Now, I want to start dipping my toes into history of rap, but I don’t know where to start. If you have any suggestion, please drop me a comment. Which representative rapper do you think I should listen to?