By Oscar Wolfe
Nearly everyone knows about the hit musical Hamilton. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you really need to come out from under your rock. I am a Hamilton fanatic. I love how everything in it goes much deeper than anyone would expect from their first time hearing it. Also, I’m a total history nerd. So, when Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda mashed up music and history, it was like a dream come true. Here’s an example of how he weaves foreshadowing into a seemingly innocent part. In the song “Hurricane,” Hamilton says, “I couldn’t seem to die,” and in the background Aaron Burr (who kills Alexander Hamilton, if you don’t already know that) sings the refrain from his most powerful song, “Wait for it.” My mind was completely blown when I realized the ominous meaning of what Burr was saying!
I’ve got a good story about the Hamilton soundtrack and me. Like many people, I listen to music before I go to bed. But, unlike most others, I listen to Hamilton. That’s how I originally learned all of the songs. Well, almost all of the songs. I would always fall asleep before the ending. So after I had listened to Hamilton for a while, my mom said “Isn’t it crazy that Burr, Hamilton’s best friend, killed him?” I screamed “WHAT?” Since I had always fallen asleep before the end, I still didn’t know that Burr was the one who ended up killing Hamilton! She could’ve at least said that it was a spoiler alert. I left and went to my bedroom to furiously listen to the last four songs.
One of the newest things about Hamilton is the Hamilton Mixtape. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a bunch of famous singers and celebrities doing a remake of one or more Hamilton songs. I think that the mixtape is very cool. (But, the simplicity of some of the original songs just can’t be beat). One of my favorite songs on the mixtape is “Congratulations,” a song that was cut before the show made it to Broadway. It’s sung by the great singer/rapper Dessa, who happens to live in Minnesota—just like me. I decided not to throw away my shot, and asked Dessa a few quick questions over email. She responded!
What’s your favorite song from Hamilton?
Gotta say, I’m torn between “Burn” and “Wait for It.” The first is heart-wrenchingly sad love song, the second is a killer get-at-it anthem.
Did you always want to be a musician?
I liked singing as a kid, but even my mom had a better voice, so I figured I probably didn’t have the chops to make it professionally. It was only years later that I came to realize the woman who happened to be my mother had an exceptional voice.
What advice do you have for other kids who want to get into music?
Find other people who are passionate what they do and who work hard to get better. Hang out with them. Make stuff.
What do you think is great?
Excellence comes in a lot of forms. Sometimes it’s simple, cheap, and easy, like street food. Sometimes it takes a whole lifetime of training to achieve, like Olympic competition.
Thanks, Dessa! And CONGRATULATIONS on a truly great song! If you haven’t listened to Hamilton yet, I would definitely suggest it. I’ll tell you what I think of it when I see it on Dec. 22 in Chicago! I think the overall point that I’m trying to make is that Hamilton is the GREATEST MUSICAL EVER!!! Lin Manuel has really blown us all away.