Indulge me in some more Hamilton blogging. The Atlantic is making The Case for Hamilton as Album of the Year:
And as music is how the majority of its fans are going to experience it, even if at some point tickets aren’t selling out months in advance at $300 apiece. The entire play happens in song, captured in a two-disc recording executive-produced by The Roots that quickly became the best-selling cast album in Nielsen history. A far smaller achievement is that it’s my favorite album of the year, and I’m one of the many people whose experience of the show has been limited to Spotify listens.
One of the biggest talking points about Hamilton is about how crazy, seemingly incongruous, it is for the tale of the guy who founded America’s banking system to be told through hip-hop. Creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda has a stock reply: “It’s a hip-hop story.” That’s both because of the way that Alexander Hamilton created a verbally dense record over the course of his lifetime, and the way that he came from poor beginnings to challenge the status quo with plenty of boasting along the way.
...All of this creates a sense of labor, of artifice. Listening to a rapper like Future, you feel like he’s transmitting directly from his brain. Listening to Hamilton, you hear writing. You hear work. Miranda said he spent a full year working on “My Shot,” and I believe it; it probably took a month alone to figure out the right phrase to rhyme with “revolutionary manumission abolitionists.” And work, according to a common cultural attitude, is not cool. People want their artists to appear effortless—recent buzzword: “sprezzatura”—or for them to virtuosically act on sudden bursts of inspiration. When the labor is visible, it’s often exalted only if it’s the service of some abstract muse.
...But Hamilton wants to do everything: entertain, inform, be the biggest thing on the planet. The fact that it succeeds, I would argue, justifies its intrinsic dorkiness. After all, the show itself is a monument to overachievement and old-fashioned ambition. The answer to the opening question—“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, 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?”—is, basically “relentless labor.” The American Dream in platonic form, no? The narrator Aaron Burr may be just as brilliant as Hamilton, but he’s reserved, cool, waiting for the right moment to make a move. Hamilton makes moves constantly and proclaims his ambitions openly, and that’s why he’s the hero—he’s breaking with decorum to achieve something great.
Hamilton’s music follows its main character’s lead, trying hard to max out on both quantity and quality. You don’t just happen into songs with hooks this gemlike, intertwining elements this complex, or arrangements that so perfectly strike the magic balance of familiarity and novelty. Nor is there any accident to the fact that the diversity of sounds here makes it so you never feel lost within the two-and-a-half hours of the production. Each and every line has been carefully sculpted so that you can hear new bits of cleverness in them each time you listen. And, perhaps most importantly, the emotional machinery just works, giving an authentic thrill at the Battle of Yorktown and a powerful feeling of sadness at the death of Philip Hamilton.I want to take this moment to tell you all how much I love Jesus Christ, and that the most fulfilling and rewarding study in life is to read the gospels and revel in the life of Jesus, because I wish that I were as effective an evangelist for Christ as I am turning out to be for Hamilton. Skeptical friends later send me messages thanking me for making them listen. A houseguest who heard the album with us later passed through New York City on her travels and snagged a ticket from a reseller so that she could see it live with the original cast.
But judge for yourself. Youtube has a cast album playlist:
The Genius-annotated lyrics, where you can also listen along.
Just you wait...