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Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks Helping Puerto Rico & Notching First Top 40 Hit: Exclusive

Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the Stream TIDAL X: Brooklyn Benefit Concert at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Oct. 17, 2017 in New York.
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the Stream TIDAL X: Brooklyn Benefit Concert at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Oct. 17, 2017 in New York.

After embarking on an all-encompassing media tour of NYC Tuesday (Oct. 17), Hamilton director Lin-Manuel Miranda's night culminated at the TIDAL X concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to continue his non-stop relief efforts for Puerto Rico.

Billboard caught up with Miranda on the red carpet prior to the star-studded event where he continued to advocate for the people of Puerto Rico as he has since day one of the post-hurricane crisis. Those efforts have included penning a heartfelt letter to the American people in The Hollywood Reporter last month, pleading citizens to help Puerto Rico with whatever they could.

In addition to offering up his own money and time, Miranda is using the power of music to help those in need, “Anytime you get to talk hip-hop the conversation gets very real. It was a wonderful day of talking about 'Almost Like Praying,' the song we put out for Puerto Rico relief,” he said of the track that hit iTunes nearly two weeks ago (Oct. 6).

Artists have more influence than ever today, which is something the Tony Award-Winning star doesn’t take for granted. It’s a beautiful sight to witness when musicians help each other by collaborating on something bigger than themselves.

“I’ve been working with HispanicFederation.Org. Tonight’s TIDAL X concert has a host of great causes, everything from the earthquake in Mexico to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and really the Caribbean. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. It’s amazing to see all hands on deck with these artists helping each other, whether it’s a re-tweet or hopping on each other’s song like Beyonce joining “Mi Gente,” said the Wesleyan University graduate.

Miranda assembled a superstar lineup on his Puerto Rico relief single, titled “Almost Like Praying,” which sold 111,000 downloads in its first week, according to Nielsen Music, and debuts at No. 1 on Billboard's Digital Song Sales chart. The prideful anthem also gave Miranda his first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, launching at No. 20.

When asked about how the inspiring tune came together, he said, “By saying it’s for Puerto Rico, that’s all I had to do and everyone said yes without even hearing the song. I’m really proud that the lyrics are nothing more than the 78 towns of Puerto Rico. When Puerto Ricans hear this song I want them to say ‘Camila Cabello or Jennifer Lopez sang my town.’ That’s a different level of pride and engagement that comes from seeing that these artists are here and making noise.”

The 37-year-old has been critical of Pres. Trump and the government’s handling of Puerto Rico, making it all the more crucial for celebrities to use their platform to spread awareness and invest resources in contributing to disaster relief. Miranda went as far as to say his faith in humanity is at an all-time high with the positive response from Americans.

 “I have more hope than ever before. Every day on my Twitter feed is like the last scene in It’s a Wonderful Life," he said. "If the government was commensurate with the response of the American people we would be on the road to recovery. I’ve got little kids breaking their piggy banks or family’s delaying their vacations because their donating money, or even people saying instead of presents for my birthday send them to Puerto Rico. My faith in our country is stronger than ever despite our challenges.”

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