9 of Hamilton’s Hidden Hip-Hop References Revealed
Last fall, Lin-Manuel Miranda released the full, annotated lyrics to his record-breaking Broadway hit Hamilton on Genius.com. Hamilton is not only packed with obscure historical facts but also contains several musical references to classic hip-hop songs that undoubtedly go over the heads of most people who can afford a ticket to see the show live.
Now, Genius has put out a new video that breaks down nine of the most prominent rap references in the show, juxtaposing each Hamilton moment with the hip-hop line that inspired it. Some are fairly obvious, like “Ten Duel Commandments,” which takes its structure from The Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 song “Ten Crack Commandments.”
“The audience needs to understand what dueling was like back then,” Miranda writes in his official annotation for the song. “It was super codified; there was a ritual about it. It was like legal arbitration—with guns. So, I came up with the idea of doing ‘Ten Dual Commandments’ because ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ is a how-to guide for illegal activity in the ’90s. And this is a how-to guide for illegal activities in the 1790s.”
Other references could be more easily missed, even by seasoned hip-hop fans. For instance, the refrain from “Meet Him Inside” was inspired by DMX’s “Meet me outside” line from “Party Up (Up in Here).” And when Christopher Jackson’s George Washington tells the audience, “You could have been anywhere in the world tonight, but you’re here with us in New York City,” he’s echoing Jay-Z, who rapped, “You could have been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me” on “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).”
See how many you were able to recognize in the video below.