Photo: Garrett Bruce
Lil Tecca Is Making "Growner" Music On New Album 'Tec'
When live music returned, Lil Tecca experienced a creative flourishing. His new album, 'TEC,' consolidates and inventories everything that makes the MC tick.
Lil Tecca may be barely old enough to drink, but he has reams of experience under his belt. He's a more advanced rapper than he was even a year ago: he doesn't risk life and limb onstage, like when he leapt offstage without shoes and almost broke his feet.
At 21, he's still hurtling forward — personally and creatively. "When I was 16, I was put in a little bit of a box, in a way," he tells GRAMMY.com. "Like a Kidz Bop, Disney World kind of thing."
But his first two full-length projects, 2020's Virgo World and 2021's We Love You Tecca 2, put childish things to bed — and now, he's out with his most mature, cohesive album to date. In his word, it's "growner" than any of its predecessors.
Featuring guest appearances from Kodak Black ("Hvn on Earth") and Ken Carson ("Fell in Love"), TEC breezes through everything that makes Tecca, Tecca. The former single is a perfect example; he can effortlessly braid with a top-shelf MC while maintaining his individual voice and vibe.
"You're definitely going to feel a various amount of emotions throughout this project. There's hype songs; there's cocky songs; there's flexing; there's sad; there's insecure. There are songs where I'm trying to manifest my future."
Read on for an interview with Lil Tecca about his conception behind TEC; growing up listening to, then working with Kodak Black; and not getting in his own way creatively.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Tell me about your creative synergy with Kodak Black.
I think with the song "Hvn on Earth," we really just found a common place where we both fit in creatively. We didn't make [the song] at the same time. When I sent it to him, he told me he really liked the song.
When I first thought of him on the song, I was like, OK, maybe this is gonna be a cool record. I didn't really ever think of the creative synergy for real. I just thought of how good he would sound on a beat.
What is it about the qualities of his voice, or his artistry, that made him perfect?
Growing up listening to Kodak Black, I always noticed the bounce to his beats — that Florida-ish bounce.
I made the beat to this one. Not that it reminded me of it, but I kind of felt like his flow complemented it.
Since you grew up listening to Kodak Black, getting to collaborate with him must have been a huge moment.
Yeah, definitely. I definitely grew up listening to Kodak, around 15, 14. He was one of the first rappers [I listened to].
Creatively what was the seed that grew into TEC?
I was just working on my album; I didn't even have a name for it yet. It was a little bit after my 2022 tour. I was just so ready to drop something for this, around this time.
Honestly, creatively, I'm always working. But putting this project together kind of put a battery in my back. Because I gave it a demand; it was like a must-be-done thing.
Putting together the whole album, I was very focused on incorporating all my sounds into this one sound — not leaving anything behind. Just making sure everything grows with me as I grow, and sticking to my roots, for sure.
What was it about this moment that galvanized you to get something out there? I'm sure returning to live shows — the energy of those — contributed to that.
Yeah, 100 percent. I'm always trying to drop a project every single year. Being super busy in 2022 and not being able to drop one, I was like, I really wish I got to drop a project.
So, coming around 2023, I didn't give myself no choice.
For those who haven't seen you live before, what can they expect?
My shows are very, very active. I feel like my setlist is very diverse. There might be a few chill songs, like [my 2022 single] "Love Me" or "Want It Bad" off my new album. A lot of slow songs that might give the fans a break.
Because when it comes to the real hitting-hard songs — loud 808s, loud bass, everything — it's mosh pits; it's very active in the crowd.
I love my setlist. It even gives me time to breathe sometimes, when I need to breathe. So, it's definitely a trip, for real. It's not like you walk into the spot and you're just jumping. You walk in, you're singing, you're jumping — just having a good time.
From a performance standpoint, who in the rap world inspires you? Regarding those two qualities — diversity and energy.
I don't really look to anyone for motivation. I would say my fans motivate me the most.
I go off their energy a lot. Not that their energy is everything, because if I see people not jumping, I'm still going to rock out. But if I see them do going crazy, that's just another battery in the back for me to just go crazy.
But I definitely look back at my own film. I definitely be checking out Rolling Loud, seeing how the people who perform, like the headliners, do. But I'm really just learning from my own mistakes, for real.
I've made so many mistakes to perform the way I do now.
I've had to jump off the stage with no shoes on and almost break my feet. I realized that you can't really just be jumping off the stage with no shoes like that. To see fans run up on me on stage, and my bodyguard tackle them right in front of me; I'm in the middle of singing my last song of the set.
Especially coming into this game, me and my whole team — we're our own OGs. We learned this the same way everyone else learned it; we had to make our own mistakes for all the people we get under our wing.
To tell them, "Hey, listen, you shouldn't do that. We had to do that; we had to get the consequences of doing that."
Every artist, every MC, has a different dynamic with their fans. What's yours?
I feel like my fans are just like me. And even if they're not just like me, they think they just like me.
I feel like we relate. And that's, like, 50 — if not 60 — percent of the reason why they liked me. The music I make is just the soundtrack to how we relate to each other, and what we're both going through.
When I think of my fans, I definitely think of myself, and all the people that look up to me. When I win, they win. So, it's that window of seeing that it's possible: Look at this dude; he just like me. He going crazy. He doing what he wants to do. I could do what I want to do.
Would you like to shout out any accompanists and producers on TEC?
Taz Taylor and Rio Leyva. Shout out to BNYX too, but mainly, Taz Taylor and Rio Leyva.
Rio Leyva is the brain. He's the person in the background who's on the computer all day, figuring out all the lab stuff. Everyone else is also putting in work all the time — Census, Nash, Noah. All the guys at Internet Money.
They're all just working in and out, jus trying to figure out new sounds — new ways we could push the genre, push the sound we created, all that.
Taz Taylor was my partner in crime throughout this whole project, creatively-wise. I trust that man's ear — sometimes, when I don't trust my ear. That's one of them guys right there. If he wasn't part of this process, this album probably would have dropped in 2025.
Why's that? Do you tend to get a little self-doubting? Did he help nudge you up the hill?
I never get self-doubting. If anything, I'm overly confident. Like, I think anything I've touched turned to gold.
Because the way I see life is, like, if you weren't born, there's so many things that wouldn't exist. That's how I see my life, so I never take credit away from it. I look at it as great.
Sometimes, you need those people around you — to be like, "Hey, listen: you might think this is great, but this is the one right here."
And sometimes, you've got to go with your gut, like, "Hey listen: I know what you're thinking about it, but this is how I think about it." You've got to have a little balance around you.
Lil Tecca. Photo: Cones
And can you talk about the guests on TEC, other than Kodak?
Yeah, Ken Carson on "Fell in Love." He's been one of my friends for years now. So, to have that song on a project — that's really just another song that one of my friends and I made.
It really has no backstory. We just went in the studio, and one day, cooked it up.
What was it about "Fell in Love" that made the people need to hear it.
I feel like every song we make is good. But sometimes, we be making songs where it's like, OK, this one has my sound really efficiently. Because we make music for ourselves at the end of the day, too.
How would you describe the various moods contained on TEC?
Everything's on there. Especially if you're paying attention to the sonics, and the overall mood of the songs, you're definitely going to feel that I was going through a bunch of stuff during this process.
Perhaps that's why it's called TEC. It seems to be a consolidation of all your different sides.
Yes, literally that. I'm condensed into: Here it is. I'm not speaking around it.
And especially, my friends call me Tec in real life. Nobody calls me Tecca. Well, maybe someone will walk up to me on the street and call me Tecca. I never hear my government name, ever. So, that might make it a little more personal — to just call it TEC.
It seems like you've never self-inventorized on record like this.
When you just practice and care about the craft, you get better over time. Even if I thought I was good a year ago, looking back now, I'm way better now.
I'm way better at speaking about what I'm going through and actually translating it in a way to where it's inviting people into my world, instead of just blurting information at people. Like, "Yo, I'm sad right now!" "Yo, I'm happy! I just bought a Gucci bag!"
I'm presenting it in a different way, where it's like, OK, you're spending 30 minutes with me. Let's take a trip real quick. It's not just random.
What happened in your creative life that facilitated this?
I think, over time, you just pass this threshold in whatever you do. You don't even know when you hit that little threshold. It's like you could just have a convo, convo, convo. It's just a flow now. It just becomes a part of your being that it's a natural thing. You don't even realize you're doing it. You hop in a flow state.
I'm also coming from: you do it for so long, you realize you're still here. You realize, no matter who think you're not going to be here this time, you're still here, just do what you're going to do. You don't want to look at when you're 90 years old and all your grandkids around you, you won't be thinking about no Instagram comments.
So, that's how we're going to do it for real. I really passed that threshold from just not caring, not getting in the way of the creativity or the process at all.
Future performs at Rolling Loud 2019 in Oakland, Calif.
Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Rolling Loud To Expand To Portugal In July 2020: A$AP Rocky, Future And Wiz Khalifa Announced As Headliners
The three-day event, the festival's first-ever European edition, will also feature Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch, Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty and more
Rolling Loud, the leading rap festival brand in the world, has today (Feb. 5) announced its latest expansion with Rolling Loud Portugal, its first-ever edition in Europe. The three-day festival, taking place July 8-10 at Praia da Rocha Beach in Portimao, The Algarve, Portugal, is stacked with today's top artists and next-gen stars in rap, including headliners A$AP Rocky, Future and Wiz Khalifa. The all-star lineup also features rap giants like Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, Meek Mill and Rae Sremmurd as well as fast-rising newcomers like DaBaby, Roddy Ricch, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Tecca and Rico Nasty, among many others.
The inaugural Rolling Loud Portugal festival will also feature performances from European artists, including AJ Tracey, Giggs, D Block Europe, M Huncho, Haiyti and Kelvyn Colt, as well as local Portuguese rappers Piruka, Yuzi, sippinpurpp, Minguito, and Lon3r Johny.
Ahead of the Portugal edition, Rolling Loud will touch down in Miami, its original home, with a three-day festival, running May 8-10, featuring headliners A$AP Rocky, Coachella 2020 headliner Travis Scott and Post Malone.
Since debuting in 2015, Rolling Loud has become the premier festival destination for rap fans around the world. Founded by Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif, the event began as a one-day festival in Miami and quickly grew as an international brand. Last October, the festival launched its debut New York City edition, which featured performances from Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Wu-Tang Clan, A$AP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert, among others. Prior to that, in January 2019, Rolling Loud launched its inaugural event in Australia with a heavy lineup featuring Future, Lil Uzi Vert, YG, Tyga, Playboi Carti and others.
Pre-sale passes for the inaugural Rolling Loud Portugal 2020 go on sale Thursday, Feb. 6, at 8 a.m. GMT. General admission and VIP tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 7, at 8 a.m. GMT.
To view the full lineup and to purchase tickets for Rolling Loud Portugal 2020, visit the festival's official website.
Source Photo: Nadav Kander; Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Sony Music Publishing Chairman & CEO Jon Platt To Receive GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honor At The Pre-GRAMMY Gala During GRAMMY Week 2024
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, the renowned Pre-GRAMMY gala, hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis, returns Saturday, Feb. 3, where Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will be honored as the 2024 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoree.
The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor celebrates the music industry's leading lights and biggest supporters. Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will become the latest honoree.
The GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor is awarded during the invitation-only Pre-GRAMMY Gala, an annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and music industry icon Clive Davis that takes place the night before the annual GRAMMY Awards. Held on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, and sponsored by Hilton, IBM and Mastercard, the Pre-GRAMMY Gala has become one of the music industry's most distinguished events for the innovative and influential creators and professionals it draws. Jon Platt is certainly among them.
"One of the most influential figures in the industry, Jon has consistently set the bar for leadership in music," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. “His ongoing commitment to equity, his dedication to quality, and his advocacy for artists across all crafts and genres have been an inspiration to music leaders everywhere. We look forward to an incredible evening dedicated to honoring his incredible impact.”
“Jon Platt is one of the music industry’s most illustrious leaders and I am thrilled that he will be this year’s Salute to Industry Icons honoree,” Clive Davis said in a statement. “Jon’s longtime trailblazing commitment to supporting songwriters across the music spectrum as well as his staunch dedication to advocacy, diversity and equality in the music business are exemplary. Artists and the industry at large are fortunate to have his insight and passion at the helm.”
Since his appointment as Chairman and CEO of leading global music publisher Sony Music Publishing (“SMP”) in 2019, Platt has worked to revitalize the company’s Songwriters First mission. His efforts have focused on emphasizing service and transparency at every level, prioritizing equity, and reshaping the company’s administration services.
During Platt's tenure, Sony Music Publishing has strengthened both its legacy and its future, creating historic partnerships with songwriting legends like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Ashley Gorley; signing the next generation of superstars like Olivia Rodrigo, Jack Harlow, Latto, Anitta, Central Cee, Kane Brown, and the Kid LAROI; and delivering opportunities for DIY creators through a landmark deal with BeatStars.
Throughout his career, Platt advocated for fair compensation for songwriters. Under his direction, Sony Music Publishing has focused on improving the lives of songwriters by putting more money in songwriters’ pockets, and getting that money in their pockets sooner. In an increasingly global music business, the company has also expanded its leading presence internationally into India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
Reflecting Platt’s commitment to artist development and his long-held belief that it’s better to grow hits than to chase them, SMP has built out its services for songwriters and composers at every stage of their careers. Songwriters Forward — a global initiative — has seen SMP providing mental health and wellness support to its roster through the Songwriter Assistance Program. SMP’s Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program has offered new financial opportunities to legacy songwriters. And SMP has provided over $1 million in grants to working songwriters in collaboration with organizations such as the 100 Percenters, Songwriters of North America (SONA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
Jon Platt’s career in the music business began in the mid-‘80s, when, as a DJ in his hometown of Denver, he was credited with breaking records from Public Enemy and Arrested Development in the Midwest. He brought the same passion for spotting hits-in-the-making to his career in music publishing, signing and collaborating with some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams and Usher. Platt is widely credited for elevating how hip-hop and R&B artists are respected and compensated as songwriters.
Platt has consistently shared his belief in building a music business every bit as diverse as the music it represents. He has increased diversity across senior leadership teams throughout his career, and supported the development of a pipeline of female executives with SMP’s global Women’s Leadership Program. His commitment to equity and inclusion extends to empowering the next generation of songwriters and composers with initiatives like SMP’s Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Platt previously served as chairman & CEO of Warner Chappell and led the company’s turnaround. He also spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he cemented his reputation for recognizing icons-in-the-making by signing Jay-Z on the release of his 1996 independent debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
Platt sits on the boards of Berklee College of Music, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Motown Museum, Living Legends Foundation, and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), and his numerous recognitions include City of Hope’s prestigious Spirit of Life Award, SONA’s Warrior Award, NSAI’s President’s Keystone Award, SESAC’s Visionary Award, Billboard’s Power 100, Variety’s Variety500, and Morehouse College’s Candle Award. In 2005, he launched The Big Jon Platt Scholarship Program for college-bound students from his Denver community in Montbello.
Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy
How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop": Air Date, Performers Lineup, Streaming Channel & More
Featuring exclusive performances and special tributes, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" premieres Sunday, Dec. 10. Here's when, where and how to watch the star-studded live concert special.
The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have happened this past summer, but the Recording Academy's ongoing celebration was just beginning. And it's about to reach its culmination with "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop," a majestic, once-in-a-lifetime live concert special featuring rap's best and brightest — past and present.
Here's everything you need to know about where, when, how, and why to watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop."
What Is "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" Celebrating?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, which took place in August.
Scholars may debate whether the genre's roots precede Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc debuted his "merry-go-round" technique of playing funk breaks back-to-back to a smattering of teenagers in the Bronx. But it's beyond doubt that this event was the spark to a flame that lit throughout the boroughs — inspiring DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, and, eventually, pioneering MCs like Coke La Rock and Cowboy.
In the ensuing decades, hip-hop has set the world on fire, swelling to become one of the foremost cultural phenomena on the planet. And "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" promises to pay homage to the breadth, depth and ongoing ripple effect of the genre and culture.
When Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
How Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of HipHop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air at the above time, at the above date, on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Who Is Performing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
The two-hour live concert special will feature exclusive performances from hip-hop legends and GRAMMY-winning artists including Black Thought, Bun B, Common, De La Soul, Jermaine Dupri, J.J. Fad, Talib Kweli, the Lady Of Rage, LL Cool J, MC Sha-Rock, Monie Love, the Pharcyde, Queen Latifah, Questlove, Rakim, Remy Ma, Uncle Luke, and Yo-Yo.
Rap icons and next-gen hip-hop superstars like 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Juvenile, Three 6 Mafia, Cypress Hill, Jeezy, DJ Quik, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Warren G, YG, Digable Planets, Arrested Development, Spinderella, Black Sheep, Luniz, and many more will also perform. Plus, hip-hop icons DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will deliver a highly anticipated reunion on the stage.
Who Is Appearing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Two-time GRAMMY winner and nine-time GRAMMY nominee LL Cool J will guide fans through the "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" experience throughout the night. You can also expect presentations and appearances from Chloe Bailey, hip-hop-meets Broadway mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Regina Hall, Machine Gun Kelly, and more.
What Can I Expect At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Spanning the past five decades of hip-hop history, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is the epitomic embodiment of the profound history of hip-hop. More than just a live concert special, the show will celebrate the infinite ways hip-hop has impacted and changed the world. Plus, with such a heavy-hitter performer lineup, hip-hop fans should expect plenty of surprises and deep dives into the rich evolution of rap music and culture.
The night will feature groundbreaking artists performing the songs that changed hip-hop forever. Expect to experience exclusive performances of such classics from all the influential eras of hip-hop, including T.I.'s "What You Know," 2Pac's "California Love," Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly," Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man," and many more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will also showcase some of the regional sounds and scenes that shaped the rap canon across the decades, including special segments celebrating Southern hip-hop featuring Jeezy, T.I., Bun B, Three 6 Mafia, Jermaine Dupri, and more; West Coast rap featuring Warren G, Tyga, Roddy Ricch, DJ Quik, Too $hort, E-40, and others; and the international rap scene featuring Akon, Blaqbonez and more.
Of course, hip-hop would not be where it is today without the influential women and female trailblazers who pioneered the genre and industry. For the past five decades, women have been essential to hip-hop, and "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to the ladies who built — and continue to build — rap music and culture. The ladies of hip-hop will take centerstage with a special performance featuring an all-women cast of hip-hop greats performing empowering female anthems, including Queen Latifah & Monie Love performing "Ladies First," Roxanne Shanté delivering "Roxanne's Revenge," Latto holding it down for the next generation with "Put It On Da Floor," and more.
As one of the highlights of the night, hip-hop pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will reunite for a highly anticipated performance featuring their greatest hits, which have since become some of the most celebrated songs in hip-hop history, including, "Brand New Funk," "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," "Summertime," and more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to this quintessentially American art form like no other. Keep checking GRAMMY.com for more news and updates about "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and make sure to tune in on Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop is produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson for Two One Five Entertainment serve as executive producers and Marcelo Gama as director of the special.
— With additional reporting from John Ochoa
Photo: Jason Mendez/Getty Images
How Lin-Manuel Miranda Bridged The Worlds Of Broadway & Hip-Hop
"A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" airs Sunday, Dec. 10. During the two-hour live concert special, Miranda will offer an inside look at how and when he fell in love with hip-hop.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has consistently been between worlds.
Whether it was growing up spending the school year in Manhattan and summers in Puerto Rico; spending the early 2000s teaching seventh grade English by day while refining "In the Heights" at night; or translating parts of one of the most beloved musicals of all time into the language half of its characters would have actually spoken, Miranda has constantly been navigating a cultural and sonic divide.
But his most consistent bridging of worlds has been between Broadway and hip-hop, most notably via the groundbreaking "Hamilton." As someone equally well-versed in Sondheim and Biggie, Miranda is uniquely positioned to bring rapping to the stage, and vice-versa.
Miranda will expound on this best-of-both-worlds mindset during a special segment on the once-in-a-lifetime "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" live concert special in which he'll give both musical theater and rap fans an inside look at how and when he fell in love with hip-hop. Airing Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" features exclusive performances from Public Enemy, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Tyga, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Three 6 Mafia, a highly anticipated reunion from hip-hop pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and many more. The two-hour special celebrates the impactful history of hip-hop and showcases the genre's monumental cultural influence around the world.
Below are five of the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda has bridged Broadway and hip-hop culture.
Convincing Stephen Sondheim That Rap Is The Future Of Musical Theater
Yes, musical theater's Shakespeare was aware of rap before he met Miranda. His character of the Witch in "Into the Woods" — originally brought to life by Bernadette Peters — spits some rhymes (he respectfully called his efforts an "imitation" of the genre).
But in his 2011 memoir/book of lyrics Look, I Made a Hat, Sondheim revealed that Miranda was the one musical theater composer who might show others how to incorporate rap into the art form.
"I was never able to find another appropriate use for the technique [after 'Into the Woods'], or perhaps I didn't have the imagination to," he wrote. "Miranda does. Rap is a natural language for him and he is a master of the form, but enough of a traditionalist to know the way he can utilize its theatrical potential: he is already experimenting with it in a piece about Alexander Hamilton. This strikes me as a classic example of the way art moves forward: the blending of two conventional styles into something wholly original… It's one pathway to the future."
Starting Freestyle Love Supreme
"Anthony would come in and distract us, 'Let's rap about our day!' . . . And we would just freestyle," Miranda recalled years later on "The Tonight Show." Soon, Veneziale had a second idea: they should do that in front of people. Thus, Freestyle Love Supreme was born.
The idea was simple: it was a mash-up (again with the bridge-building) between an improv troupe and a rap cipher. The extended crew of regulars and special guests eventually grew to include talents like "Hamilton" standouts Daveed Diggs and Christopher Jackson, and even Wayne Brady. The idea became so successful that FLS had its own Broadway show and Vegas residency, with Miranda still popping up frequently as a special guest.
Making The Hamilton Mixtape
Miranda teamed up with Questlove to make "Hamilton" even more hip-hop with The Hamilton Mixtape. The project features not just covers of "Hamilton" songs by well-known pop artists, which would have been noteworthy enough.
But more importantly for our concerns, it has a number of hip-hop reinterpretations of numbers from the show. Check out, for example, "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)," by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente, which turns one line from the musical into an absolute banger.
The project also features Nas, the Roots, Joell Ortiz, Busta Rhymes, Dave East, and many more. To make the whole thing even more hip-hop, it's mixed together by an actual mixtape DJ, J.Period. You can listen to him discuss his role here.
Appearing On The Cover Of Complex With Chance The Rapper
By mid-2016, there were few rappers on the planet more perfectly positioned between success and innovation than Chance the Rapper. The Chicago emcee captured tastemakers with his exquisite 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, before jumping into the mainstream with the May 2016 release of Coloring Book. But before all that, he was just a kid who loved going to poetry open mics.
So it made a certain kind of sense when Complex decided to pair him with Miranda for their June/July 2016 cover story. The two had a ton in common (and Chance, it turned out, was a huge "Hamilton fan" who would soon cover "Dear Theodosia" for The Hamilton Mixtape). But even more than their conversation, it was the mere fact of its public existence that ended up drawing Broadway and hip-hop a little bit closer together than they had been before that issue hit the stands.
We saved the best — and most obvious — for last. Hamilton more than lived up to the potential to theatricalize rap that Sondheim saw in it. It showed that rapping could be a key, perhaps the key, part of a major musical, and that show could not only be great, but also be a giant, world-beating, Disney+-streaming hit.
Its quotations and interpolations of classic rap songs served multiple purposes. They were in-jokes for the rap fans in the audience, an acknowledgement that this theater guy was one of us. They also provided Easter eggs for the Broadway set, a hope that maybe one day they would figure out that it wasn't originally Alexander Hamilton who described himself by saying, "I'm only 19, but my mind is old" or Thomas Jefferson who boasted, "If you don't know, now you know."