Appropriation Show and Tell — Hamilton

by | Oct 10, 2017 | Artwork #2: Appropriate, Show & Tell

The musical Hamilton hit the broadway world as an iconic historical revisionist masterpiece. Through its varied themes and multicultural cast, the show’s goal was to tell the story of the American Revolution through the lens of America today, both in the flawed ways we view some of these flawed people, and in how these figures were rockstars of their own kind during their lives. The show not only appropriates the story of the revolution, it directly appropriates many of the events of Alexander Hamilton’s life, directly citing his own work in two songs, Farmer Refuted (based on his work The Farmer Refuted), and The Reynolds Pamphlet (based on the book of the same name). Both of these songs take the themes of Hamilton’s writing, and the impact these writings had on his life, and translate them musically. The show also appropriates and references much of hip-hop and rap culture in specific lines. When Hamilton spells out his own name, he does it in a way reminiscent of the Notorious BIG. Hamilton almost directly quotes a Mobb Deep line, “I’m only 19 but my mind is old” simply replacing the last word with “older.” Many of these appropriations are peppered throughout the show and relate to the impact these artists and songs had on creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show has also taken on an almost self-appropriative nature, as there is also a book describing the creation and lyrics of the show (seen below), and an entire other album called The Hamilton Mixtape, which appropriates lines and parts of the show and recontextualizes them into a more traditional, politically-charged rap album.