Pulitzer Prize Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks His Love of Early ‘90s Hip Hop (And Kendrick Lamar)

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda attends 2016 Girl Be Heard Fairy Godmother Award Honoring Lin-Manuel Miranda And Luis A. Miranda, Jr.  at One Time Warner Center on April 18, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

Pulitzer Prize Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks His Love of Early ‘90s Hip Hop (And Kendrick Lamar)

The creator of 'Hamilton' is a man of many talents and music tastes.

Published April 18, 2016

Today (April 18) the annual Pulitzer Prize winners were announced and, much to no one’s surprise, Lin-Manual Miranda was one of them. While Hamilton, the hottest show on Broadway, has already taken home a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, Miranda can now add the Pulitzer Prize for Drama to his growing list of accomplishments. 

In a new feature for Latina, the man behind the brilliant rap musical talks about how his love for hip-hop helped inspire his creativity.

Most notably, Miranda cites Kendrick Lamar as a huge influence. 

“First of all, Kendrick is a genius genius genius,” he shared exclusively with BET.com. “I have to tell you when we were at the Grammys, you know we did our bit live from New York, but they piped in the sound of Kendrick’s set and I had my little bars for if we won. And our category was right after and as he was spitting, I was like, ‘These bars are looking worse and worse.’ It sucks to have to follow Kendrick if you’re a rapper.”

In addition to being a fan of Lamar's, Miranda is also a fan of, and more importantly a collaborator with, Questlove, calling on The Roots frontman to executive produce the show’s Grammy-winning cast album. 

“It’s interesting because my goal with Hamilton when I first read the book, I had the connection to this guy and hip-hop is the best way to tell this man’s story,” Miranda continues. “I thought I was going to do a concept album and get rappers for the project. I wrote the show first. I don’t know how to do it any other way. I write musicals, that’s what comes out of me. So to see the cast album debut on the rap charts is crazy. I mean it’s beyond my wildest dreams. We are planning this Hamilton mixtape that actually will have rappers and singers and all like my heroes that have come to the show are going to be doing covers and inspired by songs. That will come out this fall. And frankly, the more we run, the more high profile [people] get involved or want to be involved.”

Miranda also talked about his love of early ‘90s hip-hop, reflecting on how his personal tastes helped to shape the music he currently is creating. 

“I’m 36, so I am just a little younger than hip-hop,” he says. “I remember my downstairs neighbors having Fat Boys albums, Beastie Boys, Run DMC when I was a little kid. And my sister bringing home De La Soul Is Dead, which was huge! She also brought home A Tribe Called Quest, stealing her copy of Black Sheep’s A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. I am pretty stuck in ‘93, ‘94. But that being said, it’s coming back around to ‘93 and ‘94 because those of us who fell in love with music at that age are making music now.”

“Look at 1994, you had The Chronic, Wu TangMidnight Marauders, like so many different genres of hip-hop within hip-hop alone,” the composer-songwriter-actor continued. “For me it felt like a time that it can go in any direction and any direction was OK. Now it’s like these narrow categories. I just felt like there were more categories involved and I suspect that it is still true but it just doesn’t all get to the radio.”

In the feature for Latina, Miranda also speaks about how Hamilton has opened up many doors for performers of color and how it is helping pave a path for future successes.

“The real change is that it’s a cast of Black and brown performers and it’s making money,” Miranda told Latina. “And that’s what leads to change. Because of the success of Hamilton and On Your Feet!, you can’t hide behind the old argument of, ‘It needs to be bankable, so we can’t put all these people of color in the show.’ We are bankable. The reason Hamilton works is because there is no distance between that story that happened 200 some odd years ago and now because it looks like America now. It helps create a connection [with the audience] that wouldn’t have been there if it was 20 white guys on stage.

“You can imagine a future for yourself in theater as a person of color because the parts exist. When I grow up I could play Hamilton one day or Burr.”

Check out the feature in full for Latina here.

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(Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images)

Written by KC Orcutt


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