Hip-Hop Hamilton - The New Yorker

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer, lyricist, and star of Hamilton, says that Alexander Hamilton reminds him of Tupac Shakur.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer, lyricist, and star of Hamilton, says that Alexander Hamilton reminds him of Tupac Shakur.Credit Photograph by Zach Gross

In April, 2009, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a writer, composer, and performer, received a call from the White House. The new President and the First Lady were planning to host an evening of live performances centered on the American experience, and Miranda was invited to participate. Miranda, who was twenty-nine, had spent the previous year starring in the Broadway musical In the Heights, of which he was the composer and lyricist. Set in Washington Heights, the show incorporated salsa and merengue with rap and hip-hop, blending them with more conventional Broadway tropes, to winning effect. Heights had won four Tony awards, including those for Best Musical and Best Original Score, and Miranda had accepted the latter with an effervescent rap that invoked Sunday in the Park with George: Mr. Sondheim / Look, I made a hat! / Where there never was a hat! / Its a Latin hat at that! (He then pulled a Puerto Rican flag from the pocket of his tuxedo.) The White House likely expected Miranda to perform something invoking the Latin-American experience, and he was told that a number from In the Heights would be welcome.

Miranda had something different in mind. A few months earlier, he and his girlfriend, Vanessa Nadal, who has since become his wife, had been on vacation in Mexico, and while bobbing in the pool on an inflatable lounger h....

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