Billboard Cover Sneak Peek: 'Hamilton' Creator & The Roots on How Obama, Trump Factor Into Hip-Hop Founding Fathers Musical
"Rapping Founding Fathers" might sound more like a viral YouTube clip than the basis of a new, important work of theater. At least, until you see it -- or listen to creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda describe it.
Hamilton, now on Broadway with $30 million in advance ticket sales (and a slew of VIP attendees, including President Obama), is anything but a one-note joke. An Alexander Hamilton-centered hip-hop musical with a mostly African-American and Latino cast, Hamilton just might be a new American classic.
In Billboard's upcoming cover story, out Thursday, July 30, Miranda and The Roots' Questlove and Black Thought (who are producing the cast album) sat down with Billboard to discuss how President Obama, Donald Trump and the $10 factor into all of this.
Ahead of the full story, here are some highlights from their conversation with MSNBC's Chris Hayes (who just happens to be a high-school classmate of Miranda's).
The President Insists He's Partly Responsible for the Play
The first time anything from Hamilton was performed, it was by Miranda at the White House.
Questlove: From what I hear, the president won’t cease to let you know that: “The White House is where it began.”
Miranda: He claims it. That first time, when I did it at the White House for the first few minutes, everyone was like, “What’s happening?” But by the end they’re kind of like, “Ohhhh, we kind of like this.” That has been a microcosm of the Hamilton experience. You say “rapping Founding Fathers,” everyone laughs, and then the first few numbers happen and they go, “Ohhhh, this makes sense.”
How Trump's Racist Remarks Are Changing Response to the Show
Miranda: There’s a line where [French military officer] Marquis De Lafayette and Hamilton are about to basically win the Revolutionary War and they say, “Immigrants: They get the job done,” and then they high five. I was bowled over by the massive audience applause for that moment… I think we’re going to have to add more bars. I also think it’s because immigration is at the center of our politics the way it gets every 20 years. You know: Group comes in, everyone goes, “They’re taking over, they’re taking our jobs.” And Trump being Trump, immigrants are at the forefront of the conversation right now.
Black Thought: This is a country of immigrants. This production is a reminder of that.
Why Hamilton Was Ahead of His Time
Miranda: He was repulsed by the practice and got the importation of slaves banned in New York and co-founded the New York Manumission Society. So he’s morally on the right side of history -- in contrast to Washington, and in contrast to Jefferson.
Why Andrew Jackson Should Get Kicked Off U.S. Currency Instead of Hamilton
Miranda: To me, the show makes the case pretty well for Hamilton staying on the money. I don’t need to belabor the point. Like: This guy instead of [Andrew] Jackson?
Read the full Billboard cover story featuring Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and The Roots' Questlove and Black Thought when it's out Thursday, July 30.