Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Genius decodes Hamilton’s numerous references to classic hip-hop

Illustration for article titled Genius decodes iHamilton/i’s numerous references to classic hip-hop

Genius (formerly known as Rap Genius) has garnered a well-deserved reputation as possibly the only lyrics site on the internet that isn’t a complete disgrace to music lovers everywhere. Besides containing the words to thousands of songs, from a wide variety of genres, the site also allows users to annotate lyrics with their comments, ranging from slang definitions to historical tidbits to thematic interpretations. Numerous well-known acts have created Genius accounts and even added annotations to their own songs, allowing fans to get a unique insider perspective on these recordings. Amusingly, Eminem himself is only the second highest-ranked contributor to Genius’ Eminem page. Last fall, Hamilton composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda took the time to annotate the lyrics of his own original cast album. (He, too, is only the penultimate expert on his own work.)


And now, Genius has expanded its coverage of Miranda’s musical with a new video called “9 Classic Rap References In Hamilton.” By juxtaposing clips from Hamilton with snippets of classic rap songs, the video shows that Miranda is pretty bold in his allusions to hip-hop history, particularly drawing inspiration from tracks from the 1990s. Some of the parallels will be familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of the era. It doesn’t take a genius, rap or otherwise, to know that “10 Duel Commandments” is descended from ”Ten Crack Commandments” by the Notorious B.I.G. Biggie is all over this compilation, in fact. Other tracks by the late Christopher Wallace cited here include “Going Back To Cali,” echoed in Hamilton’s “My Shot,” and the autobiographical track “Juicy,” quoted by Miranda in “We Know.” But the scope of Hamilton includes nods to Jay Z, DMX, and Mobb Deep as well. As Biggie himself once put it, “And if you don’t know, now you know.”

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