The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought Discuss ‘Hamilton’ the Musical

Hamilton the American musical is based on the biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It was conceived in 2013 by composer, rapper, actor and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays Alexander Hamilton in the play.


This play combines the historical accounts of founding father and abolitionist Hamilton with modern rap and hip-hop. The Roots’  Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter were recruited to produce the album for the Broadway production.

In an interview with BillBoard, Miranda, Questlove and Black Thought talked about what it was like to work and experience the play.

hamilton-publicQuestlove talks about the diverse cast and the lack of white actors in the play.

“The casting is a bold decision that works, that totally works. I went on a night when Lorne Michaels was in the audience and ­[playwright] Tracy Letts was there and I just kept looking at their faces, and they were so energetic and entertained by it. And I was like, ‘OK, so maybe this isn’t as controversial as I thought it would be.’ From a hip-hop head perspective, it was thumbs up. And then I was wondering: What will a history buff say? Who’s going to snark in The New Yorker and say, ‘You know, this is not at all an authentic portrayal’?”

Hamilton is not the first play Questlove composed music for. In fact, he co-composed the play Fela! in 2009. Hamilton is currently on Broadway.

5 Black Artists Using Music To Inspire And Tackle Important Social Issues That You Should Know

I’ll have to admit, as great 2014 was on a personal level, it was a really hard year for me witnessing the violence against our women and men of color. The needless deaths at the hands of law enforcement broke my heart and I couldn’t figure out a way to properly express myself — being the only girl I have a tendency to go right for the jugular during a debate, it’s how I survived having two older brothers. Also, how can one really talk about a subject that is so insane you can’t wrap your head around it? So, I looked towards music to help quiet my always busy brain.

This list is presented by Kristin from Black Girl Nerds


Leyla McCalla

I’m a fan of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I love how this group of young people have embraced the history of American music and made it accessible to all audiences. When I saw them live a couple of years ago I learned about Leyla McCalla — her personal story is phenomenal — and fell in love with her style. The night they announced the grand jury wasn’t going to indict the officers for the death of Eric Garner I was at The Hamilton Live in DC to see her. Last year, Leyla released “Vari-colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” a solo album which put some of Hughes’ poetry to music. I needed this — her beautiful voice and Hughes’ beautiful prose shut out all the anger and horrific comments I had been reading via social media. At one point during her performance, Leyla explained that she wasn’t planning on performing “Song for a Dark Girl,” but felt the need to in the memory of Michael Brown. After scattered applause, the venue fell silent, which is kinda hard considering there are two bars in it. Such a quiet, yet powerful song. By the time she finished I was hiding my face from a coworker and his wife who were sitting next to me as tears were falling.