"How does a bastard orphan son of a whore
and a Scotman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean, by providence impoverished, in squalor,
grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
The ten-dollar founding father without a father
got a lot farther
by working a lot harder
by being a self-starter
By fourteen they placed him in charge of a trading charter
and every day while slaves were being slaughtered
and carted away across the waves
he struggled and kept his guard up.
Inside he was longing for something to be a part of
the brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter.
Then a hurricane came and devastation reigned.
Our man saw his future drip dripping down the drain.
Put a pencil to his temple, connected to his brain,
and wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain.
Well, the word got around, said, 'This kid is insane, man!'
Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland
Get your education, don't forget from whence you came,
and the world's gonna know your name!
What's your name, man?
Perhaps you haven't heard of Hamilton, the new hip-hopera with a rare spate of unanimously glowing reviews, but like the man himself, it's making some history. The show, sold out before it even transferred to Broadway, is a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, treasury secretary and famously killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. And in a post-modern casting decision, most of the lead roles are played by decidedly non-white, non-dead men. Hamilton is played by the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, son of Puerto Rican immigrants, and the other founding fathers are played by actors and singers cast for their ability to rap, regardless of ethnicity. (Well, that's debatable, actually: the casting listings for the show, for the most part, specifically call out for actors of every ethnicity except white, which does present the question of whether there's some reverse stereotyping going on.)
Here's the genesis of the show, performed at the White House in 2009:
And now NPR is streaming the whole cast recording. (EDIT: NPR isn't streaming the soundtrack anymore since it's now out on CD, but they link to a Spotify playlist where you can hear it.)
Tickets are getting scarce, but Darwin and I are planning to roll together Christmas, our birthdays, and 15th anniversary into one big event and go to New York next year to see this.