Music- Three Ways to Start Listening to Hip Hop Using Hamilton: An American Musical

Jay-Z The Blueprint album coverThe Blueprint by Jay-Z
Hamilton cast recording CD coverHamilton: An American Musical
The Original Broadway Cast Recording
Notorious BIG Life After Death album coverLife After Death by Notorious B.I.G.



Like the hit musical Hamilton and want to listen to more hip-hop, but not sure where to start? Here are three different methods you can try to find hip hop artists or styles you might like! Just a reminder, like all music hip hop is a diverse genre and albums, artists, and songs mentioned below will have varying mature content.

1. Listen to the artists the characters were inspired by.

As Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer of Hamilton, was reading the biography that inspired the musical, Alexander Hamilton, he was quick to draw parallels between the men and women involved in the formation of our country and hip hop artists. Below is a taste of those parallels:

George Washington is…. a mix between Common (formerly known as Common Sense) and John Legend.

Hercules Mulligan is… inspired by Busta Rhymes

Hamilton is… modeled after Rakim, Big Pun, and Eminem

2. Listen to some of the inspirations for the songs.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has stated that the musical is a love story to hip hop. There are way more homages payed to hip hop songs (and other musicals) than what is listed below, but to start you off:

“My Shot” has a tribute to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Going Back to Cali”

“Ten Duel Commandments” has a similar structure as Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments”

The opening to “Cabinet Battle #1” references Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and contains parts of “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash

“Meet Me Inside” has some of the same pieces as DMX’s “Party Up in Here (Up in Here)” (if you don’t hear it right away, keep listening!)

“Cabinet Battle #2” alludes to Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy (It’s All Good).”

3. Listen to other albums that have storytelling elements to them.

One of the appealing aspects of the Hamilton album is that listeners will get a whole story about Alexander Hamilton. While albums below may not all have the same storytelling chronology as the musical, they do tell stories either in the individual songs or by being a part of a larger narrative.

Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly album cover To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Scarface Deeply Rooted album cover Deeply Rooted by Scarface



In the Heights album cover In the Heights  (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Outkast Atliens album cover ATLiens by Outkast


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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s commentary on his lyrics
Mental Floss’ “20 Things You Might Have Not Known About ‘Hamilton'”
Podcast interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda on Another Round