Especiales Historiadores

Historia y hip hop en la Casa Blanca

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El pasado mes de mayo la casa Blanca, dentro de su serie de actividades “Poetry and Spoken Word”, acogió al compositor y actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, quien presentó una parte del que será su próximo álbum de hip hop, The Hamilton Mixtape, y que tiene como personaje central a uno de los personajes más emblemáticos de la historia norteamericana: Alexander Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton sentó las bases de la temprana economía del Estados Unidos independiente. Asimismo, hizo importantes esfuerzos por pagar la deuda externa del país así como la contraída por los demás estados, de modo que las finanzas federales pudiesen concentrarse en la promoción del comercio como fuente de la futura riqueza del país.

La historia que cuenta Lin-Manuel Miranda sobre Hamilton es por demás interesante, y eso quizás explica por qué el cantante lo eligió: de unos orígenes totalmente humildes (huérfano, hijo ilegítimo, “son of a whore”) y de una agitada vida, logró posicionarse como uno de los hombres más importantes entre los Padres Fundadores de Estados Unidos.

Hay que recordar que el interés por los Padres Fundadores y su alta recepción en el público en general se incrementó a raíz de la emisión de la miniserie John Adams así como por la campaña electoral de 2008, donde nuevas publicaciones sobre las biografías de estos primeros políticos trataban de ofrecer modelos para reconstruir el pacto entre el gobierno y los ciudadanos, mellado por la presidencia de George W. Bush y el optimismo por el eventual triunfo de B. Obama.

Los dejo con el video sobre Hamilton y luego va la transcripción de la canción.

 

Aquí va la transcripción de la primera parte de la presentación de Lin-Manuel Miranda, vía Saturn Smith.

“Estoy emocionado de que la Casa Blanca me haya llamado para presentarme aquí esta noche porque actualmente me encuentro trabajando en un album de hip hop, un album conceptual sobre la vida de alguien que creo representa el hip hop: El secretario del Tesoro Alexander Hamilton. Ustedes se ríen! Pero es verdad. Él nacio como un huérfano pobre en St. Croix, hijo ilegítimo, que se convertiría en la mano derecha de George Washington”.
I’m thrilled the White House called me tonight, because I’m actually working on a hip-hop album, uh, a concept album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. You laugh!  But it’s true.  He was born a penniless orphan in St. Croix, an illegitimate birth, became George Washington’s right-hand man, became treasury secretary, caught beef with every other founding father, and all on the strength of his writing.  I think he embodies the word’s ability to make a difference.
 
So, I’m going to be doing the first song from that tonight; I’m accompanied by Tony- and Grammy-winning music director Alex Lacamore.  [Applause]  Uh, anything you need to know?  I’ll be playing Vice President Aaron Burr, and snap along if you like.

 
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore

and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot

In the Carribbean, by Providence impoverished, to squalor,

Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father

Got a lot farther

By workin’ a lot harder

By bein’ a lot smarter

By bein’ a self-starter

By fourteen they had placed him in charge of the trade and charter

And every day more slaves were being slaughtered

And carted away across the waves

Our Hamilton kept his guard up

Decided he was longing for something to be a part of

The brother was ready to beg steal borrow or barter.

Then a hurricane came,

Devastation reigned,

Our man saw his future drip drippin’ down the drain.

Put a pistol to his temple

Connected it to his brain

And he wrote his first refrain

A testament to his pain.

The word got around: They said, “This kid is insane, man!”

Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland

Getcha education; don’t forget from whence you came,

And the world is gonna know your name!

What’s your name, man?

 
Alexander Hamilton. His name is Alexander Hamilton.

There’s a million things he hasn’t done.

But just you wait.  Just you wait.

 
When he was 10, his father split

Full of it, debt-ridden.

Two years later, see Alexander’s mother, bed-ridden,

Half-dead, sittin’ in the room, sick himself,

Alex got better but his mother went quick.

Moved in with a cousin. The cousin committed suicide

Left him with nothin’ but ruined pride.

Somethin’ new inside him, a voice

Saying Alex, you gotta fend for yourself,

He started retreatin’

And readin’

Every treatise on the shelf.

Now, there would’ve been nothin’ left to do

For someone less astute,

He would’ve been dead and destitute

Without a cent of restitution.

Started workin’

Clerkin’ for his late mother’s landlord

Tradin’ sugar cane and rum and other things he can’t afford

Skinnin’ for every book he can get his hands on

Plannin’ for the future: See him now

As he stands on the bow of a ship headed for a new land

In New York you can be a new man.

The ship is in the harbor now,

See if you can spot him:

Another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom

His enemies destroyed his rep; America forgot him;

And me?  I’m the damn fool that shot him.

 
Alexander Hamilton,

We were waiting in the weeds for you.

You could never back down.

You always had to speak your mind.

But Alexander Hamilton, we could never take your deeds from you.

In our cowardice and our shame,

We will try to destroy your name.

The world will never be the same, Alexander!

 
Yeah, I’m the damn genius that shot him.

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José Ragas
Soy Ph.D. en Historia por la Universidad de California, Davis y Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow en el Departament of Science & Technology Studies en Cornell University. Mi investigación se centra en la formación de sistemas biométricos y tecnologías de identificación. Para conocer más sobre mis investigaciones, pueden visitar mi perfil o visitar mi website personal: joseragas.com.
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