‘Hamilton’ Hip-Hop, by Students is a NY Times interactive showing-off Hamilton-inspired raps by students. The neat twist is that they are shown as a multiple-choice cloze, so you have to choose which words fit.
I wrote my way out
Wrote everything down far as I could see
I wrote my way out
I looked up and the town had its eyes on me
There are variations of that verse in other parts of the song, and I think those parts could be pretty accessible to ELLs and they’d certainly enjoy it.
The mixtape uses lots of the original lyrics, but adds a lot, too. You can read all the lyrics here and I’ve embedded the video below (which only contains audio):
I particularly like the final lyrics to that version:
I picked up the pen like Hamilton I wrote my way out of the projects Wrote-wrote my way out of the projects Picked up the pen like Hamilton I wrote my way out of the Wrote-wrote my way out of the projects I wrote my way out Picked up the pen like Hamilton I wrote my way out of the
(I wrote my way out) Really, I saw like a hole in the rap game, so if I wanted to put my little two cents in the game, then it would be from a different perspective (I wrote my way out) I thought that I would represent for my neighborhood and tell their story, be their voice, in a way that nobody has done it Tell the real story
I’m thinking that I could use the music with my Intermediate English Language Learners and ask them to respond to this prompt:
What do you think the singer means by “I wrote my way out. I thought that I would represent for my neighborhood and tell their story, be their voice, in a way that nobody has done it. Tell the real story”? Who do you think has told the story of your community? Do you think you could be a voice of your community? If you think you can help tell your community’s story, how could you do it and what kind of help would you need? If don’t think you can tell your community’s story, please explain why not.
Lin Manuel Miranda began a contest this week to raise money for organizations that support immigrants.
You can enter easily by contributing ten dollars, along with the option of videotaping yourself singing any song from Hamilton. The winner of the contest gets to be Miranda’s guest at the L.A. opening of the show.
There have been a number of great videos of celebrities (and non-celebrities!) singing, including Northern California’s own Curry family:
Here’s a video of Lin Manuel Miranda explaining the contest:
Miranda also just today released a great mix-tape music video based on his song “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done). It’s great but, unfortunately, includes a swear word in Spanish. So I’m not going to include it in this post.
The new “My Shot” is additionally fascinating in that it inverts the entire conceit of Hamilton. Miranda’s first insight was that Alexander Hamilton’s life is a “hip-hop story”; now, Black Thought shows up to un-submerge that narrative, spelling out exactly what it means. He opens the song describing schoolkids being told their choices in life are between “mugshots, gun shots, dope shots, jump shot” before getting to the memorable couplet, “When even role models tell us we’re born to be felons / We’re never gettin’ into Harvard or Carnegie Mellon.” “Rise up” still means something very real, you’re reminded, for lots of Americans.
I don’t think it alters the lesson I suggested for ELLs because of how quickly the words are song, but it would be a nice addition if you were using the idea with students proficient in English.
You can read the new lyrics here, and listen to it in this embedded version: