Lin-Manuel Miranda Discusses ‘Hamilton’ and Amplifying Voices

Now that the hit musical Hamilton is streaming on Disney+ for anyone to enjoy, information on the mastermind behind the script is in high demand.

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Fortunately, Lin-Manuel Miranda recently joined Zane Lowe on Apple Music for an interview and to run through his ‘At Home With’ playlist. Read below for part of Lowe and Miranda’s conversation.

Lin-Manuel Miranda About Making Hamilton More Accessible:

It’s the thing we struggled with the most because if we put our tickets out for 20 bucks, resale market would sell them for whatever ungodly prices. And then I would hear from relatives saying, “You’re charging $2,000?” I’m like, “No, we’re not.” So, we made the front two rows 10 bucks. We did free shows outside with members of our original cast, like outside our theater twice a week.

And then the two big things we did were, one, we prioritized students. So we created this program where students from Title 1 schools see the show for 10 bucks, and 250,000 students have seen Hamilton in the past five years through that program. And then we filmed this movie because we knew this is another way to do that. And once we’ve played the cities and we’ve given as many people as we can an opportunity to see it live, which is how it was intended, we’ll also give it to the world, and that’s the step we’re on. So I’m really proud of that.

Hamilton Is A Love Letter To Hip-Hop:

I mean, hip hop’s the language of revolution and it’s our greatest American art form. To me, that was the initial impulse. It was the fact that Hamilton got everywhere on the strength of his writing. That was the whole idea, was, “Well, that’s what my favorite MCs do.” They write so brilliantly that they transcend their circumstances and they change the world literally through their power of their pen and their delivery and their oratory. That’s the fundamental idea in it. That’s why it’s such a love letter to hip hop… why there’s so many hip hop references in the show, whether it’s Biggie or Mobb Deep or DMX. They’re just peppered throughout and creating the precedent of clearances for a musical because we did.

I went and did the work. It was like, “No, no, no. This contains….” I want the kids who just only know musical theater when they pick up their liner notes, they see “Contains a sample from ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ by Notorious B.I.G.” If you like this musical, you owe it to yourself to listen to the hip hop that you maybe weren’t listening to because that’s the reason this exists, is my love for hip hop.

About Amplifying Voices During The Current Social Climate:

I mean, honestly, I think the moment right now, I’m doing a lot of listening. I’m doing a lot of just amplifying black voices in this moment right now, amplifying a lot of young people and learning from them, and then putting money towards candidates I think embody our beliefs. And yeah, I mean just, I’m doing a lot of shut up, listening and giving money. That’s really what I’m doing.

About Hamilton As The First Successful Hip-Hop Musical In The “Very White World of Theater” & Systemic Racism:

Yeah, I think once we got passed through the reality that the pandemic was sort of slowing business as usual, and then the larger conversation is … And I’m just speaking to my own corner of the world that is sort of theater, and New York theater is like, well, business is not business as usual. So, in this moment where we’re talking about systemic racism, systemic inequalities, how does that affect our corner of the world? And it certainly affects theater. The fact that Hamilton is the first successful hip-hop musical and hip-hop is 40 years old tells you everything you need to know about how late change comes to the very siloed, very white world of theater.

And so, those are the conversations we’re having within the Hamilton company, and within sort of the larger world of theater of, how do we return to a more equitable space? How do we return to a space where backstage is as diverse as our cast on stage, where our audiences are as diverse as our cast on stage? Because that’s the other thing, is one of the things I’m proudest of this movie is, it gives everyone the brag of, “I saw the original cast for seven bucks.”

Read American Songwriter’s Behind the Song “Alexander Hamilton” article here, and check out all of the artist-curated ‘At Home With’ playlists on Apple Music here.

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