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Hamilton: Remixing the Old School for a New Audience

 

Hip Hop’s History of Remixing

Sampling and remixing from your forefathers has been a part of hip hop culture from day one. Bob and Earl’s opening horns to Harlem Shuffle were used as House of Pain’s opening to Jump Around. Funkadelic’s (Not Just) Knee Deep was heavily sampled by De La Soul’s breakout hit Me, Myself and I. Snoop Dogg’s What’s my name? practically sampled every bit of George Clinton’s Atomic Dog (bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo-yippee-yay). The Fugees biggest hits used hip hop to reinterpret old classics Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack and Ready or Not, Here I Come by the Delfonics. Their reinterpretations shined a spotlight on their inspirations for a new audience to appreciate.

Funkadelic - Uncle Jam Wants You (1979) #warnerbros #funkadelic #parliament #sampled #delasoul #funk #disco #platforms #shades #style #fonk #wicker #wickerchair #georgeclinton #kneedeep #bernieworrell #bootsy #junimorrison #parlet

 

Enter Hamilton…

Hamilton is a Broadway musical that takes a very old school tale and spins it with a hip hop beat to update the story for today’s audience. When you think of United States historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams, you probably think of a bunch of white dudes with puffy pants, powdered wigs and a 1 percent attitude — a strange and distant past that doesn’t seem too appealing to visit. The Broadway musical Hamilton takes this impression and turns it on its head.

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Remixing A Book Into A Musical

In 2004, Ron Chernow published a book titled Alexander Hamilton, about the historic U.S. forefather. It was an acclaimed best-seller that captured the drama of Hamilton’s life and presented it in a novel-like readable manner. The book wasn’t just engaging to readers, it was also historically accurate. This book ended up being the inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda to pen the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.

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In this lesson, learn about how Hamilton pays homage to classic rap, celebrates diversity and provides a compelling narrative to tell the story of a white dude with puffy pants, which is entirely historically accurate. Then try your hand at creating the next unconventional blockbuster, relating history from your point of view.

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Hamilton: Does Lin-Manuel Miranda Give us True History or just His-Story?

 

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What’s a Historian to do with Kim Kardashian?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at what it means to be a historical thinker and discover how to look at the past the way historians do. Today, there are so many historical digital documents: tweets, youtube videos, last night’s embarrassing selfie that somehow found its way onto Instagram… There’s a lot of information being generated, but who is going to sort through all of it and decide what is most meaningful. Who knows, maybe in the future there will be historians that focus entirely on the legacy of Instagram selfies of Kim Kardashian.

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Where Did History Start?

History is an interpretation of what happened in the past. Society has been keeping track of history since time unknown. In Western culture, Greece is often pointed to as one of the first countries to strongly value keeping and telling history. Around 400 B.C., Thucydides produced the work History of the Peloponnesian War. This was significant because it details the fall of Athens in a way that doesn’t look towards gods or mythology. Instead, Thucydides just related the events that happened and what the human motivations were. Some claim he was one of the first historians.

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What Counts As History?

History has been related in many ways: oral histories, hieroglyphics, cave art, sculptural representations of important figures, books, and photographs. It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that history as a social science really developed. Historians placed much importance on combining history with geography, economics, psychology and anthropology. Combining these disciplines has helped historians be more accurate. But, even though historians may try to be accurate, history is always an interpretation, never a complete truth.

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So, Does Hamilton Count As History?

In this lesson, we’ll bring a critical eye to the big blockbuster history lesson everyone is captivated by, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Does Miranda’s play shed light on an overlooked historical figure and give America a different way to appreciate its founding history? Or does it just provide entertainment and overlook all of the uncool things these old white men did and represented? By sidestepping the forefather’s involvement in slavery and Native American genocide, can Hamilton be viewed as a historically accurate document of our past? Is that important when a work of art can generate so much interest in the past? Dig in deep to this history and make your own decision about how we should be viewing Hamilton.

 

 

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The RLL Podcast: Ep. 4 – Learning Prince and Deconstructing Genius with Jason King and Terrance Thomas

 

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This was the definitive music episode of the RLL Podcast. We nerd out with music experts Jason King and Terrance Thomas to discuss Prince and what students can learn from his legacy. Prince’s genius is deconstructed and we explore whether Kanye, Bieber or Hamilton’s Lin Manuel fit the mold. Beyonce got us slow sippin’ Lemonade and we look for hints of vulnerability and self-expression or plain old marketing genius. And what has Hamilton taught us about history, theatre culture and masculinity? Jason King is a musician, journalist, radio host and professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU. Terrance Thomas provides creative direction and artist development for many recording artists today and lived a former life performing on Broadway and in theatres around the country.

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Ep. 4 – Show Notes:

Check out all of the great work mentioned in this episode:

Prince Was a Genius No Matter How you Define It – Vice Magazine by Jason King

Jason King organizes panel on Prince at NYU featuring Questlove, Spike Lee, Kimbra, Anthony Hamilton and others.

NuSkool x HOT 97 Summer Jam Essay Contest

Examining Beyonce Compared to the most Powerful Women in History

Terrance Thomas – @ITerryTommy

Jason King – @JasonKingSays

Jason King’s band – The Company Freak

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Hamilton: Does Lin-Manuel Miranda Give us True History or just His-Story?

 

75cb66f2d1a4d2e104307353844af95e

 

What’s a Historian to do with Kim Kardashian?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at what it means to be a historical thinker and discover how to look at the past the way historians do. Today, there are so many historical digital documents: tweets, youtube videos, last night’s embarrassing selfie that somehow found its way onto Instagram… There’s a lot of information being generated, but who is going to sort through all of it and decide what is most meaningful. Who knows, maybe in the future there will be historians that focus entirely on the legacy of Instagram selfies of Kim Kardashian.

CHIMZSxWgAEiIU9_bqaloz

Where Did History Start?

History is an interpretation of what happened in the past. Society has been keeping track of history since time unknown. In Western culture, Greece is often pointed to as one of the first countries to strongly value keeping and telling history. Around 400 B.C., Thucydides produced the work History of the Peloponnesian War. This was significant because it details the fall of Athens in a way that doesn’t look towards gods or mythology. Instead, Thucydides just related the events that happened and what the human motivations were. Some claim he was one of the first historians.

pelowar-lg

 

What Counts As History?

History has been related in many ways: oral histories, hieroglyphics, cave art, sculptural representations of important figures, books, and photographs. It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that history as a social science really developed. Historians placed much importance on combining history with geography, economics, psychology and anthropology. Combining these disciplines has helped historians be more accurate. But, even though historians may try to be accurate, history is always an interpretation, never a complete truth.

1.174083

 

So, Does Hamilton Count As History?

In this lesson, we’ll bring a critical eye to the big blockbuster history lesson everyone is captivated by, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Does Miranda’s play shed light on an overlooked historical figure and give America a different way to appreciate its founding history? Or does it just provide entertainment and overlook all of the uncool things these old white men did and represented? By sidestepping the forefather’s involvement in slavery and Native American genocide, can Hamilton be viewed as a historically accurate document of our past? Is that important when a work of art can generate so much interest in the past? Dig in deep to this history and make your own decision about how we should be viewing Hamilton.