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How We Analyzed and Visualized Hamilton’s Rhyming Lyrics (opennews.org)
158 points by sebg on June 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



For people not living in NY: "Hamilton" is a 2015 musical about the US president Alexander Hamilton and it's very popular in that part of the world.


It's fairly popular outside of there now as well.


Right. It was nominated for a record number of Tony's and was 1 shy of the record wins. It won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The cast recording was recently certified Platinum, is currently #3 on the Billboard overall charts and #1 on the rap charts, and was voted in top 5 rap albums of 2015 by most reviewers. It also won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The creator recently won the MacArthur genius award.

"Hamilton" is not just a Broadway show popular with people living near NY. It's a cultural phenomenon across the United States and from my limited exposure, English-speakers around the world.

Nothing wrong with explaining it. I'm sure many people here don't know anything about it. That explanation was a little weak though, because it a) misstated Alexander Hamilton's role in history and b) really understated the significance of the show.


>It's a cultural phenomenon across the United States and from my limited exposure, English-speakers around the world.

I had only heard about it from watching John Oliver.


Yep, like I said, I'm sure many people haven't heard of it, probably more than have heard of it. But your comment actually supports my point. How many other musicals have you heard about on John Oliver?

"Hamilton" has reached the point where it's a part of the mainstream pop culture, discussed on national morning shows, late night talk shows, etc. That's unusual for a Broadway show, these days.


why is this musical so popular?

btw, Alexander Hamilton was never the president


It's popular because it uses all types of musical styles including rap, R&B, and brit pop to tell Hamilton's story. The cast is also racially diverse, the only character that has a cast member with the same race as he is King George, a minor character.

IMHO, it has resonated with people because it takes a stuffy topic and makes it more relatable to younger generations allowing them to see a bit of themselves in the founding of this country. It also goes against a prevailing thought that it's ok to "white-wash"(recast minority roles with white actors) but not the inverse. Also, the internet, this was the viral video that started it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNFf7nMIGnE

Unable to score tickets to see the show, fans have coalesced around the really awesome soundtrack.


Because it’s very, very good?

That isn’t any kind of guarantee of success, but it’s a damn good base to start from.


right. i just got the impression it was particular popular among the leftist crowd, e.g., HCR is now giving away 'free' tickets [1], and i thought it maybe had something to do with Hamilton's political views.

[1] https://twitter.com/Communism_Kills/status/74685929910477619...


Well there are the pro-immigrant story notes, the race bending casting and so on - those things all played to social justice / left groups & probably helped win people over in marketing the thing (having the interest of the PoTUS does tend to help your production get noticed for instance). But none of that would have mattered if it wasn’t any good.

It’s pointless to try and ram the founding fathers into any kind of modern left/right axis - 300 years ago is definitely another country & they did things differently there. Trust me, if you haven’t heard it, get a hold of the cast album and give it a listen. It’s worth your time.


I wouldn't say it's pointless. It needs to be done carefully, but it can provide some insight and fun reading:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/reading-hamilton-from-the...


For those with Spotify, you can listen to the cast album here. The title track is arguably the most famous, but Yorktown (Track 20) is another excellent example of how the musical blends rap and musical theater tropes into an unforgettable combo.

https://open.spotify.com/album/1kCHru7uhxBUdzkm4gzRQc

Re: your point about the leftist crowd, the Clinton campaign giving away tickets is notable because tickets now sell on the secondary market starting at $1000+. (And 100% worth it.) The show itself does make you sympathize for a character who consistently advocates for a strong central government (see Cabinet Battle #1, Disc 2 Track 2), but that's an afterthought in the context of how groundbreaking the rest of the show is.


Eh, not really. I mean, I think (don't know) that Broadway shows and rap music are more popular on the left than the right. So, it's probably true that the show is more popular with liberals than it is with conservatives. But I don't think it has anything to do with the message of the show or Hamilton's politics.

It's not really an overtly political show, other than a few jokes about immigrants being effective. That is, the show covers highly political material as it profiles Hamilton, a Federalist. But I don't think the show itself has a strong political message it's trying to propagate, at least not in relation to current campaigns. You could argue the show is making the statement that the founding of the country and the founding fathers are history that belongs to all of us, people of color, recent immigrants, white descendants of the pilgrims, etc. – and that history needs to be told in new ways and understood by everyone.

But I think advocating better understanding of our history is something conservatives appreciate too, and in general, conservatives believe in self-reliance, accountability, etc., and should respect the self-made story of Hamilton.

I think HRC is giving away tickets just to piggyback on the popularity of the show and its recent Tony wins. Also, seeing as HRC was a Senator from New York (and I think currently resides in NY officially), it makes sense for her to associate with a cultural phenomenon from there.


>why is this musical so popular?

My wife loves it and I listened to parts of it and it has some really catchy rap. She never got into hip-hop culture, so I think this is the the big breakthrough for a lot of white middle-class and higher theater/musical people who previously found this stuff inaccessible.

This is pretty much Kanye for housewives and grandmas. Its non-threatening and if there is anything controversial about it, its a manufactured controversy that's safe to partake in.


I get the impression that "Hamilton" appeals to people who want to feel "down with the minorities" but get the vapors if they accidentally look at Section 8 housing.


The music and book are excellent. The music samples from a variety of hip/hop and rap from the 70s-80s and early 90s, hitting a core demographic of Broadway attendees (30-40 somethings). The book is a fairly decent summary of the biography by Chernow.


If you like this you might like the visualizations in http://www.vox.com/2016/5/19/11701976/rapping-deconstructed-... too


Love it, thanks. DOOM is some sort of genius.


The original post shows how the sausage was made (focusing on visualization/UX).

Also check out the http://graphics.wsj.com/hamilton-methodology/ for what the sausage is made of (focusing more on algorithms/models with a bibliography).


You might also like the analysis at https://rapmetrics.wordpress.com


also see this analysis / graphic breakdown / of rap lyrics http://genius.com/Sameoldshawn-rap-stats-breaking-down-the-w...


Here's the official analysis of each song all in one book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1455539740/

It's really well done.




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