What's The Big Deal About 'Hamilton,' Anyway?

What's The Big Deal About 'Hamilton,' Anyway?

"History is happening in Manhattan."
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Last week, it was announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. While America celebrated the inclusion of such an important female historical figure on our money, fans of the Broadway hit "Hamilton" rejoiced in double measure, as there has been talk that it would be the “ten-dollar founding father” who Tubman would be replacing. However, Alexander Hamilton gets to stay on the bill, a decision undoubtedly influenced by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit hip hop musical.

Earlier in the same week, Lin-Manuel Miranda received a Pulitzer Prize for "Hamilton," one of only nine that were given to plays in the last hundred years. Previous winners include "Rent," "A Chorus Line," and "South Pacific," all of which were politically proactive, which puts "Hamilton" in good company. Its cast is comprised of mostly people of color—black and Hispanic founding fathers—is just as revolutionary as the events of the plot.

The winning of the Pulitzer prompted the consideration of raising the prices of tickets to the show, which is significant because premium tickets are already at $595 a piece. Yet people still fill up the Richard Rodgers Theater every night to be in “the room where it happens.”

So, what is the big deal? How did a musical about Alexander Hamilton and rapping founding fathers influence the decisions of the United States Secretary of Treasury, win such an exclusive and prestigious award, sell out an entire summer’s worth of shows by March, and manage to captivate the country more than any Broadway show has ever done?

Here are four things about the show that prove just how important Hamilton is:

1. Diversity

The show's most defining feature is that nearly every founding father is portrayed by a black actor. Lin-Manuel Miranda claims POC actors were chosen because they are the best choice to perform the genres of music selected for the show: rap and hip hop. Also, having black founding fathers claims the story of America's past for America today.

Throughout the show, positive light is also shed on immigrants. The opening line characterizes Alexander as a "bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean" who "grew up to be a hero and a scholar." At 19, he traveled as an immigrant to the United States where he was able to "rise up" and become a founding father of our nation—a poster boy for the American Dream. In a world where there's so much talk against immigrants, it's a nice reminder that one of the founding fathers was one.



2. Feminism

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I'm 'a compel him to include women in the sequel." (The Schuyler Sisters)

"Hamilton" is full of feminism. Though we typically don't hear as much about women in colonial times as we do about the founding fathers in history classes, the show tells the stories of Angelica, Alexander's wife Eliza, and Peggy Schuyler as if they're just as important--because they are.

Women get the leads in some of the most powerful songs in the show--including but not limited to "Satisfied," "Burn," and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story." Women are respected and considered equals to the men in the show.


3. Hip Hoppin' Politics

"A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor, your debts are paid 'cause you don't pay for labor!" (Cabinet Battle #1)



Imagine this: all future presidential debates and congressional meetings are rap battles. Amazing, right? The two cabinet meetings in "Hamilton" are staged as rap battles between Hamilton and his political nemesis and fellow founding father Thomas Jefferson, and they're so fun because of the witty rhymes and digs they take at each other. These songs and others, including "The Room Where It Happens," "Washington On Your Side," and "The Election of 1800," poke fun at the pettiness of the politics of the beginning of our country and now, in how closely the founding fathers' drama resembles today's. Also, the clever lyrics and catchy beats make you care about and learn American history without even realizing you're doing it. And the best part is you enjoy every minute of it.



4. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

"Let me tell you what I wish I'd known when I was young and dreamed of glory: you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story." (History Has Its Eyes On You)



A recurrent theme in the show is the idea of a legacy. The show is narrated by Aaron Burr, who infamously killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, playing on the idea that the victor gets to tell the story. Alexander acts as his own narrator in a way because of the way he aggressively protects his good name and tries to shape the way future generations remember him, which is ironic considering in the opening number, Aaron Burr claims "his enemies destroyed his rep, America forgot him." Lin-Manuel Miranda also acts as a kind of narrator of the story because he wrote the show.

So, there's a question: who tells the story? The show answers on many levels, but it all boils down to one answer: we do. The whole show is proof we don't have to accept what is. We can have black actors portray founding fathers. We can remember the story from Burr's point of view or from Hamilton's. We can listen to a story so seemingly distant from our world today and claim it like it's our own. History may have its eyes on you, but it's not set in stone.

The big deal about "Hamilton" is that it tells a story lost in history of an immigrant turned founding father, and it reclaims the story of the beginning of America for today's America. It's no wonder this show full of diverse actors, strong female characters, Grammy award-winning songs, and important themes has turned the world upside down.

So, if you haven't listened to the cast album, what are you waiting for?

Cover Image Credit: New York Times

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37 Drake Lyrics From 'Scorpion' That Will Make Your Next Instagram Caption Go Double Platinum

Side A makes you want to be single, Side B make you want to be boo'd up.

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We all knew Scorpion was going to be the summer banger we wanted. However, Drake surprised us with two sides of an album and two sides of himself. Mixing rap and R&B; was genius on his part, so why not dedicate 37 of his lyrics to our Instagram captions?

1. "Don't tell me how knew it would be like this all along" — Emotionless

Definitely a "I'm too good" for you vibe.

2. "My mentions are jokes, but they never give me the facts" — Talk Up

This one's for my haters.

3. "I wanna thank God for workin' way harder than Satan" — Elevate

For when you're feeling blessed.

4. "I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated" — March 14

In Drake's story about his son the world knows about now, we get a lyric of true love and dedication

5. "My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions" — Survival

6. "Pinky ring 'til I get a wedding ring" — Nonstop

7. "I gotta breathe in real deep when I catch an attitude" — 8 Out of 10

This first line of the song is about to be spread on the gram like a wildfire

8. "Heard all of the talkin', now it's quiet, now it's shush" — Mob Ties

9. "California girls sweeter than pieces of candy" — Sandra's Rose

This is gonna have every girl who has ever stayed in Cali all hot and heavy, watch it.

10. "I think you're changing your mind, starting to see it in your eyes" — Summer Games

Y'all know how these summer games go

11. "Look the new me is really still the real me" — In My Feelings

When you've got to profess that you've changed 200%

12. "Only beggin' that I do is me beggin' your pardon" — Is There More

13. "Shifted your focus, lens lookin' jaded" — Jaded

14. "Back and forth to Italy, my comment section killin' me" — Can't Take a Joke

Necessary for when you've got people hyping you up already

15. "People are only as tough as they phone allows them to be" — Peak

Y'all can't have this one, I'm stealing it

16. "Work all winter, shine all summer" — That's How You Feel

Put in the work so you can flex on 'em, summer 18

17. "Blue faces, I got blue diamonds, blue tint, yeah" — Blue Tint


18. "I stay busy workin' on me" — Elevate

19. "Ten of us, we movin' as one" — Talk Up

The perfect reason to get the largest group picture you've had on your gram

20. "October baby for irony sake, of course" — March 14

This statistically applies to 1/12 of y'all reading this, so take that as you will (we October babies are the best)

21. "She had an attitude in the summer but now she nice again" — Blue Tint

22. "I know you special girl 'cause I know too many" — In My Feelings


23. "Gotta hit the club like you hit them, hit them, hit them angles" — Nice for What

24. "She said 'Do you love me?' I tell her, 'Only partly,' I only love my ____ and my ____ I'm sorry" — God's Plan

If you haven't used this one yet, get to it

25. "But I'm blessed I just checked, hate me never met me in the flesh" — I'm Upset

26. "It's only good in my city because I said so" — 8 Out of 10

Follow this up with a location and shoutout your hometown

27. "My haters either on they way to work or they arrived" — Can't Take a Joke

28. "I always need a glass of wine by sundown" — Final Fantasy

Has Drake ever been more relatable?

29. "It's your f***in' birthday. Happy birthday" — Ratchet Happy Birthday

Let's go get kicked out of an Applebee's

30. "I move through London with the Eurostep" — Nonstop


31. "I stopped askin' myself and I started feelin' myself" — Survival

Mood all summer 18

32. "They keep tryna' get me for my soul" — I'm Upset

33. "I'm tryna see who's there on the other end of the shade" — Emotionless

34. "Only obligation is to tell it straight" — Elevate

35. "It don't matter to me what you say" — Don't Matter to Me


This line from the King of Pop (MJ) will give you chills. R.I.P.

36. "I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves" — Sandra's Rose

37. "Say you'll never ever leave from beside me" — In My Feelings

Couple goals, amirite?

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi / Instagram

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Harry potter still teaches magic and compassion 20 years later

The series has always been hailed as lesson in friendship and bravery, but the lessons in the novels transcend those themes.

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The end of June marked a major milestone for wizards, witches, and muggles alike: Harry Potter was first published in the US twenty years ago.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first of seven entries in the series about the Boy Who Lived, delighted audiences young and old after seven publishers turned the book down. Twenty years, eight movies, two theme parks, a prequel movie series, and plenty of merchandise later, the Potter books still captivate and delight.

I am a part of the captivated audience and have been for years. It is more than my personal connection that brings me to reread the books, though.

The themes and stories found in the pages and brought to life onscreen hooked me as a young reader and challenge me as an older one. The friendships that lie at the root of all of the novels have always caused me to value the worth of friends outside of Hogwarts and into my own life.

The courage and bravery shown by the Golden Trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione for anyone not familiar with the term) inspired me as a child. I may not have had magical powers that required a wand like Hermione, but I knew I could still use my love of books and knowledge to achieve what I set out to accomplish.

These basic themes caught my attention when I first read the books and have stayed with me ever since. Now that I've reread them a few times and have experienced a little more, I realize Harry and every other character can teach us all so much more than just these themes.

The plotlines of Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows aren't just about defeating villains in school; these novels center around the fight against a corrupt Ministry of Magic, adults who don't trust young adults with "adult" responsibilities, and the concept of labeling people different from you as the "other".

In "Order of the Phoenix" alone, the Daily Prophet newspaper runs article after article dispelling the true claims that Voldemort has returned; the Minister himself ignores the problem and prefers to remain in blissful ignorance; students form a secret group to prepare themselves for a fight they know to be inevitable and have seen for themselves.

The Ministry, through a professor who cares nothing for the students she is supposed to serve, interferes with the school system; and blood purity in the form of Voldemort's pure blooded supporters begins to back those of muggle lineage into a very dangerous corner.

Sound familiar?

Fake news, ignorance, students banding together to fight what adults do not see as an issue, the corrupt practices of a education secretary, and xenophobia are hardly foreign concepts in 2018. I'm not claiming we live in a world similar to Harry's, but I'm not going to not claim it either.

My point is, there is a lot we could learn from Harry and everyone he encounters throughout his journey.

The compassion towards those different from us, shown through the support Remus Lupin receives from those who don't judge him and his condition, Hermione's defense of house-elves and non-human magic folk, and through the friendships in the novels, should serve as a lesson to all that caring about one another can get people through anything.

The success of Dumbledore's Army in the fictional world could teach some people that young adults in the real world aren't so dumb and naive. In every way, there is a lesson to be learned from all aspects of the Potter novels.

Perhaps the biggest take away from the novels, even twenty years later, is the power each individual holds. Harry spent eleven years in a cupboard under the stairs before he began to save the world every year.

Hermione, Ron, Neville, and virtually every other character each thought their flaws were greater than their strengths at one point. The wizarding world fought against prejudice and violence and lost much in the process.

Yet still, at the end of the series, even after the darkest of times, all was well. The series teaches us that all will be well if only one remembers to turn on the light.

Remember, in the midst of darkness, to turn on your light; that is the true lesson to be learned from Harry and company.

Cover Image Credit:

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