Hamilton Cast Album

March 27th, 2016

Generally speaking, musicals are not my jam, but over the past two weeks or so I have watched every single YouTube clip of Hamilton and have listened to each and every interview of the Hamilton’s cast obsessively. The situation is out of control. So much so that I think the time has come to address it in a post.

Obviously (and it should be obvious from the fact that I am poor and live in France, by the way), I haven’t seen the show on Broadway. I’ve managed to piece parts of it together from various YouTube clips and commentary. I’ve also listened to the (brilliant!) cast album of the show. Several hundred times. Yeah. I can’t sing for shit, but if I could, I would probably have been able to sing My Shot from memory.

I am not in any way qualified to talk about the artistic value of the musical (having avoided the whole genre for 25 years), but I’ll try to give you the gist of why this cast album (mostly the cast album) makes me happy.

I may not understand musicals, but I love hip-hop. Songs in Hamilton reference things like Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes and Notorious BIG. While talking about the American Revolution.

Every song is exciting. There’s not a dull moment, and it keeps surprising me. Not everything in Hamilton is hip-hop. For example, the King George solo is just perfect, and the rhymes are totally flawless. It’s this song where the British king is going to “send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.” Awesome.

Apart from references and the total mastery of the beat (you keep waiting for it to break, and it doesn’t, and it doesn’t until it does, at the very best moment possible), there are hidden gems in each song. For example, Lafayette rapping in a faux French accent. Perfect.

Finally, I personally find the subject matter fascinating. I’ve recently finished reading a book on American history, and the American Revolution is one of those half-mythical events that just stick with you, and you keep wanting to know more about those characters. Everything is just so dramatic and old-fashioned, but also so real and almost modern. Especially the personalities. Hamilton is a particularly interesting Founding Father. The guy was an immigrant who opposed slavery from day one and wanted a stronger central government. The incredibly compelling personal story and the musical brings his story to life, romanticizing it without making it vulgar.

In general, if you liked the 2013 Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby movie, you will probably love Hamilton as much as I did. It is modern and relevant in a way that not much of entertainment is.

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