“Hamilton” is the crowning American cultural creation of the 2010s, thus far.* The School House Rock + 90s Rap + Showtunes mashup leaves about a dozen songs stuck in the head and posits new discoveries upon multiple listens. Reimagining the Founding Fathers as Hip Hop Dandies contemporarizes their philosophy, writing, and arguments. The Hamilton Mix Tape lacks the emotional throughfare of the cast album, but its meshing of hip hop and powder wigs is stronger. “I picked up the pen like Hamilton” Nas intones in ‘Wrote My Way Out”. “We’re America’s ghost writers” K’naan shouts in “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”.
One iconic Broadway show and one increasingly tasty album does not, a definitive quantitative analysis of cultural or attitudes. Still, it does indicate at least some championing of the ideals and big personas of the founders (in spite of their ugly and hypocritical record on slavery) amongst the broader hip hop community, along with a celebration of the immigrant working hard, thinking harder, making it and becoming American.
Meanwhile, in “Real America”™, following, at best, the seediest election in American history (yes worse than 2000) the Right is suddenly largely embracing the mutual hand jobs exchanged between Team Trump and the Potato Jefe Putin. Strong circumstantial evidence that we have literally elected a Manchurian President and lost the Cold War in the postgame interviews is met with a smile and a shrug. I mean, hHey, he’s our Manchurian President, amiright?
Urban, hip hop America embraces the Founders and the ethos of the Immigrant Striver. Reactionary, conservative America embraces Bolshevism and KGB rat fucking and is just fine, thanks, with playing footsie with overjoyed like, actual, Nazis.
It’s enough of a switcheroo to boggle the mind. That is, until one applies my oldest hypothesis: In America Everything Always Comes Back to Race. Then it makes perfect sense. The machinery the founders, however imperfectly built, is applying itself to a multi-ethnic plural society. Putin and Nazis preserve white christian nationalism without any fussy dog whistles. Oh yeah… Duh!
* The best movie of the 2010s is “Melancholia,” even more so now. Rogue One even stole its ending!