Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam:  (8 of 8)
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Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam: (8 of 8)


(applause) Lin-Manuel Miranda:
I’m thrilled the White House
called me tonight because I’m actually working
on a hip-hop album. It’s a concept album about the
life of someone I think embodies hip-hop Treasury Secretary,
Alexander Hamilton. (laughter) You laugh, but it’s true! He was born a penniless orphan
in St. Croix of illegitimate birth, became George
Washington’s right-hand man, became Treasury Secretary, caught beef with every other founding father. And all in the strength
of his writing, I think he embodies the world’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 music director Alex Lacamoire. (applause) Anything you need to know —
I’ll be playing Vice President Aaron Burr. And snap along if you like. ♪♪(piano playing)♪♪ How does a bastard orphan son of
a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean, my providence impoverished
in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar? The ten dollar founding father
without a father got a lot farther by working a lot
harder by being a lot smarter by being a self-starter By 14, they had placed him in
charge of a trade and charter And everyday, while slaves
were being slaughtered or carted away across the waves
our Hamilton kept his guard up Inside, he was longing for
something to be a part of The brother was ready to
beg, steal, borrow, or barter Then a hurricane came
and devastation reigned And our man saw his future
drip, dripping down the drain Put a pencil to his temple,
connected it to his brain And he wrote his first
refrain, a testament to his pain When the word got around, they
said, this kid is insane, man, took up a collection just to
send him to the mainland Get your education Don’t forget from
whence you came And the world is
going to know your name What’s your name, man? Alexander Hamilton (laughter) His name is Alexander Hamilton And there’s a million
things he hasn’t done But just you wait, just you wait When he was ten,
his father split Full of it. Debt ridden. Two years later see Alex
and his mother bedridden Half dead sitting in their
own sick the scent thick And Alex got better but
his mother went quick Moved in with a cousin the
cousin committed suicide Left him with nothing
but ruined pride Something new inside
a voice saying, Alex, you got to fend for yourself He started retreating
and reading every treat that’s on the shelf There would have been nothing
left to do for someone lest
astute He would have been dead and
destitute without a cent of restitution Starting working, clerking
for his late mother’s landlord Trading sugarcane and rum and
all the things he can’t afford Skinned for every book
he can get his hands on Planning 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 coming
up from the bottom His enemies destroyed his
rep, America, forgot him And me I’m the damn
fool that shot him Alexander Hamilton (laughter) 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 (applause) Thank you. (applause)

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