Saturday, November 5, 2016

What's Your Name Man?: A Hamilton Review

Hello friends!

I know, I know, I haven't been on here in forever, but I hope you look past that fact enough to read this post. I've had severe writer's block, I suppose you could say? But I finally feel inspired enough to get back on here again, to share something very special with you.

Weeks ago, I was introduced to a Broadway show called Hamilton. Before then, I'd only seen the album on the iTunes charts. Like most things, it had to grow on me, but in days, I was obsessed. I can't get enough of it. And I know why understand many feel the same way I do.

ABOUT: Hamilton is a Broadway Musical "about America now, told by America now", hence the amazing African American and Puerto Rican actors playing our respectable founding fathers. It tells the story of a less well-known American,  our first Treasurer Alexander Hamilton. Most people know him from being on the ten dollar bill, if that. But most people aren't aware that Alexander was a orphan from the Caribbean, was George Washington's "Right Hand Man" and literately "wrote his way out" out of nearly every tragic situation he faced. The play and the music was written by a musical genius named Lin-Manuel Miranda, who spent eight years writing it.


ALEXANDER HAMILTON (Lin-Manuel Miranda): Right away, we learn that Hamilton has come from a tragic past. His mother died with of a fever that almost killed him too. A hurricane destroyed his home-town in the Caribbean. Since his mother died, he had no family until marrying his wife Eliza. (Philippa Soo)

As much as I love  everyone in
this play, Hamilton was my favorite. First of all, he's a headstrong writer.  At least in the play, he's a lady's man. You'd expect him to marry a woman with a fiery heart like his. Instead, he falls in love with Eliza, who's just about as good as any person can be.  It's not a cheesy story: Hamilton truly came from nothing and worked his way to finding a family, a country, and something worth fighting for

Favorite Line: UGH EVERYTHING. But I think he had me at, "I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory."

AARON BURR (Leslie Odom Jr.) : Don't know his name?  He was the Vice President under Thomas Jefferson. Pretty quickly, we learn that he was the one who killed Hamilton in a duel. "Well, if you love Hamilton, you hate Burr, right?" Actually no. Like Hamilton, Burr's an orphan who's basically lost everyone in his life. He wants to do great things, but he refuses to make a move until he's sure it's the right one. But he's so elegant and poetic and I just love him too, ok?

Favorite Line: Life doesn't discriminate between the sinners and saints, it takes, and it takes, and it takes...

From hip-hop to show-tunes, this musical has everything genre-wise. But the lyrics are the best. Here's just a taste of the poetry I'm talking about:

"You built me palaces out of paragraphs, you built cathedrals." -Eliza Hamilton, "Burn"
"If you stand for nothing, Burr, what you'll fall for?"-Alexander (Actually a real quote)
"Dying is easy, young man, living is much harder." -George Washington (also real. May I mention that this play was extremely well researched?)
"We dream of a brand new start, but we dream in the dark for the most part."-Burr, "The Room Where it Happens
"What is a legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see." -"The World Was Wide Enough)

The catchiest songs include:
My Shot (CLEAN VERSION) (basically Hamilton meeting his friends and his philosophy on life)
The Room Where it Happens (This song is legit the coolest song in the musical, with Aaron Burr, of course)
Guns and Ships (about Layfette, this song contains the best rapping)

The Sweetest Songs include:
Helpless (the song about Eliza meeting Alexander
Dear Theodisa (This is sung by Alexander and Aaron Burr to their children; it's basically the prettiest thing)
And of course, the theme song "Alexander Hamilton" is amazing. though it does include a few mild words. Look up a clean version for that one.

First of all, it portrays every character with their own music style according to their own historical character. For example, we have Layfette, who's from France. At first, he's stumbling around with his English while rapping in this awesome French accent. And then a few songs later, when he gets the hang of the language, he's suddenly busting out these really fast, cool lyrics that are awesome, doing a better job than the English men.

Also, I love the feminism. A lot of times, I don't agree with how our culture has presented it. "Yeah, strong women know martial arts and can body slam anyone!"  That is not the case here. The girls aren't telling everyone women should leave their children and join the frontlines asap. They're simply saying that women's ideas should be respected just as much as men's are. I think that's something we all can agree with.

There's no clear bad guy in Hamilton. In fact, most everyone believes in the same thing. They all want America to prosper; they believe in freedom and justice. They all have different ways of going about it. No founding father is perfect, as we learn, even George Washington. In any other form of literature, he's portrayed to be our all-knowing leader of our country. But in Hamilton, he's just a honorable man trying not to make the same mistakes. At one point, Washington tells Hamilton that he led his men into massacre in his younger years.

But I think the best message Hamilton offers is its lesson about legacy. From the first song, Hamilton's goal is to "die in glory", to leave his mark on the world. As it turns out, his own ambition spurs him on to make his biggest mistakes. His biggest fear is rejection, so  much that his actions to avoid it nearly destroy his family. In the end, he dies for what he believes in, killed in a duel that not many people remember. He saves America from debt, though he is rarely credited for his efforts. If this musical teaches anything, it's this: We need to let our legacy take care of itself. We can't control what how people will react; all we can do is choose to do what's right.

Unfortunately, Hamilton is not without faults. In fact, the biggest one is the language. Since this musical is hip-hop influence, it does include some pretty bad profanities. Fortunately, there is a clean version of the album that blocks the worst stuff out. So, if you chose to listen, make sure it's the right album.  There's a catch to this too: It doesn't block out everything. The album is basically a little better than an Avengers movie. But if you overlook that, the musical is still a poetic, unique take on America history.

So what do you think? Have you heard Hamilton? Do you like it? What's your favorite song? Do you agree with the messages I presented, about feminism, legacy, etc. Comment! I'd love to find fellow Hamilton lovers.

Here's a few of the best songs (no bad words included)

If you've made it this far, I applaud you! I hope you like this post; hopefully, I'll get back on here soon:) This is a review of the album, not the actual musical.