Lin-Manuel Miranda looked to hip-hop to give voice to some of the characters in his critically acclaimed musical Hamilton.
“They write so brilliantly that they transcend their circumstances and they change the world literally through their power of their pen and their delivery and their oratory,” said Miranda to Billboard.
Hip-hop lyrics have begun to be widely recognized for their merit outside of the culture. The Notorious B.I.G. was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year due to what the organization labeled his “short but impactful career.”
Miranda sampled Biggie’s the “Ten Crack Commandments” for his track “Ten Duel Commandments.” The original form of the musical drug-dealing manual appears on Biggie’s debut album Life After Death.
“That’s the fundamental idea in it. That’s why [Hamilton is] such a love letter to hip hop. I want the kids who just only know musical theater when they pick up their liner notes, they see, ‘Contains a sample from ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ by Notorious B.I.G. If you like this musical, you owe it to yourself to listen to the hip-hop that you maybe weren’t listening to because that’s the reason this exists, is my love for hip-hop,” he continued.
Alex Lacamoire, the arranger, music director, conductor, and orchestrator for Hamilton, explained how it was important to Miranda to create something unique with his inspiration in an interview in Slate. “I did try to replicate some of the sounds of that ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ track. And Lin said, ‘I want it to be a little further apart in that respect’,” he said.
“It depends on the taste of the composer, and sometimes whether you’re jumping the shark and making something a little too on the nose,” added Lacamoire.
Hamilton is currently streaming on Disney Plus.