Hamilton Remix- A Bright Ray of Sunshine Amidst a Cataclysmic Election- Guest Post By Alison Dobrick
Today’s release of two songs on the HamiltonMixtape a long-awaited labor of love was a bright ray of sunshine during this cataclysmic storm of an election. My Shot (Rise Up Remix), by the Roots, featuring Busta Rhymes, shows definitively that Hamilton’s multiracial, up-to-the-minute portrayal in hip hop and song of idealized, distorted history was just the beginning of its cultural power.
Hamilton has become a cultural legend in its year and a half of existence. Accolades and superlatives cannot express the musical’s brilliance, beauty, and innovation; I am joined in this opinion by so many, from the Obamas to PBS to the corporate and government institutions funding opportunities for students to experience the groundbreaking show. Yes, I am a grown adult, and yes, upon listening I very quickly developed the intense fan-ship now known throughout the internet as “Hamilaria,” symptoms of which include playing/performing the album daily in the car; spouting verses and references (admittedly, to a possibly exasperating extent); and going into significant debt for a ticket with an obstructed view. For many of us, the excellent musical provided brilliant, Americana-themed escapism, especially needed during these troubling, pre-election days.
My musical- and hip hop-loving soul was enraptured, but my mind was still bothered about the ways in which history’s portrayal in Hamilton can be considered problematic or even offensive. Activist Ishmael Reed provocatively contends that having “black actors dress up like slave traders” does not mitigate the effects of presenting history in a way “that endowed slave traders and Indian eliminators the status of deities” (Counterpunch, 8/21/15). In The Public Historian (2/16),Rutgers scholar Lyra Monteiro compellingly analyzes Hamilton’s “erasure of black history.” The horrors of With A Brooklyn Accent: Hamilton Remix- A Bright Ray of Sunshine Amidst a Cataclysmic Election- Guest Post By Alison Dobrick: