Culture Crash 18-19: The Hamilton Mixtape, Hamildrops and the Hamiltome: Keeping Hamilton alive

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

By now, it’s well-known that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2015 musical Hamilton is a cultural sensation. The musical won all sorts of awards including 11 Tonys, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer. The lyrics were quoted by President Obama, and the original Broadway recording has spent over 130 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 and has reached as high at number three on the list. Some even credit the musical with convincing the US Treasury to keep Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

But Miranda has ensured his musical lives beyond just the musical itself. Since its premiere, he has co-authored a book about the development of the show, participated in a PBS documentary about the show, and released 28- yes, 28- bonus songs.

First came The Hamilton Mixtape, born out of Miranda’s self-professed love of cassette mixtapes from the 90s, the album was full of songs cut from the show and remixes by notable musicians including Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, and Asher.

In recent months, Miranda has begun what he called the Hamildrops – one new song per month until he runs out of material. The Hamildrops have included a song about Benjamin Franklin, a pro-gun control collaboration with the musical Dear Evan Hansen made to benefit the March for Our Lives, and the first draft of one of Hamilton’s many showstoppers, Burn performed by five different actresses who has portrayed Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton in the musical.
Hamilton is a cultural moment, but it’s also proving to have some endurance. Over three years since its premiere, new songs released under its brand-name still zoom to the top of iTunes and Spotify charts, and keep Hamilton’s rabid fanbase delighted and excited.

I’m Evan Rook.

Culture Crash 17-18: The Impact of “Hamilton: An American Musical”

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Welcome to Culture Crash, a new segment where we examine literature, film and entertainment to explore issues and trends affecting the country.

This week, we look at the musical people can’t stop talking about: Hamilton: An American Musical.

Hamilton the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, has won numerous awards including a Tony for Best Musical and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of forefather Alexander Hamilton, Miranda and his collaborators sought to make this essential American history lesson more accessible to modern audiences.

The infectious music pulls from a variety of styles, most notably rap and hip-hop, but it also includes ballads and several pop-rock songs reminiscent of the British Invasion. The anachronistic music succeeds at bringing the history of the late 1700s and early 1800s into the twenty-first century.

Even more significant Hamilton makes history accessible to everyone through ground-breaking non-traditional casting. The show features African Americans and Latinos portraying the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and our unlikely narrator, Aaron Burr.

But make no mistake, in addition to being a trailblazer, Hamilton teaches real history. Songs document the tactics involved in winning the Battle of Yorktown, the neck-and-neck election of 1800, and the famed duel between a sitting vice president and the man on our ten dollar bills.

After U.S. history teachers lauded the production for being classroom-ready, the producers have hosted several free matinees for high schools in New York City and Chicago, with plans to unveil similar programs in other cities across America. Hamilton is now running on Broadway and in Chicago, and a touring production opened in San Francisco last month.

If you can’t find a ticket are interested in the history the full soundtrack for Hamilton, all two hours and twenty-two minutes of it, is available for purchase or can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music. I’m Evan Rook.