Home / General / Europe’s “Migrant Crisis” Gets A Shout Out In The New Hamilton Mixtape Video

Europe’s “Migrant Crisis” Gets A Shout Out In The New Hamilton Mixtape Video

Pretty pretty Riz Ahmed (aka Riz MC)

Lin Manuel-Miranda has dropped a video from the Hamilton Mixtape album featuring K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC and Residente. Its a powerful story of fruit pickers, slaughterhouse workers, maids, and others who put their lives at risk just to come to a country where they will be despised for taking the jobs the citizens don’t even want.

I hardly need to run through how timely this song  and Hamilton itself is for the American public, that’s been a subject of many think pieces for years now. What is new to Hamilton (as far as I can tell) in this mix tape is the inclusion of a European and specifically British point of view of migrants and refugees.

Riz MC (aka actor Riz Ahmed) raps about “fugees” and the British Empire while images of people being pulled from rubble and running toward fences roll by.

“Ay yo aye, immigrants we don’t like that
Na they don’t play British empire strikes back
They beating us like 808’s and high hats
At our own game of invasion, but this ain’t Iraq
Who these fugeeswhat did they do for me
But contribute new dreams
Taxes and tools, swagger and food to eat
Cool, they flee war zones, but the problem ain’t ours
Even if our bombs landed on them like the Mayflower
Buckingham Palace or Capitol Hill
Blood of my ancestors had that all built
It’s the ink you print on your dollar bill, oil you spill
Thin red line on the flag you hoist when you kill
But still we just say “look how far I come”
Hindustan, Pakistan, to London
To a galaxy far from their ignorance
Immigrants, we get the job done”

Riz himself is of Pakistani origin, and obviously shouts out immigrants from the subcontinent in the verse, but the images are plainly a reference to Syrians. Videos of Syrians being pulled from buildings destroyed by Assadist and Russian forces from the White Helmets very popular on the internet for both their documentation of the crimes against civilians and the hope for survival it can inspire. When those refugees do arrive in Eastern Europe, they are met with barbed wire fences, dogs, and aggressive police forces. In Western Europe, they drown while trying to cross the sea or languish in camps unfit for human habitation.

Hamilton premieres on London’s stage this fall. I couldn’t get tickets but I am really excited for the British public to embrace the political consciousness its built around race and immigration. We’ll see if audiences love it the same way they do in the States.

Note: I’ve put the “migrant crisis” in quotes in the title because its an ambiguous term that can be interpreted to mean the migrants themselves are the crisis. But its the most commonly used, so that’s what we’ll go with for simplicity’s sake. 

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  • Alesis

    It’s often asked what we as liberals can do if it’s true (and it is) that racism and xenophobia swung a lot white voters behind Trump. This is an example. Immigrants and refugees need “humanizing” in the public consciousness just as transgenders do. Studies show that this actually changes people’s minds over time.

  • Stephen Reineccius

    A good friend of mine whose parents are Gautemalan immigrants sat me down to watch this with her, and all we could do was cry through the whole thing. My family was mostly made up of farm workers, coal miners, and maids. Hers were the slaughterhouse workers, garment workers, and maids. This was just too real for us. And it was so empowering for her family.

    • epidemiologist

      This video made me cry immediately and then throughout.

      I am still processing it but I loved that it didn’t choose between celebrating immigrants’ accomplishments and condemning the discrimination and ingratitude that make it so much harder than it has to be.

  • rudolf schnaubelt

    I believe this century will be a century of refugees. Between wars and climate change and an overflowing population life will be intolerable for billions of people. We need to address this basic human right to flee danger and seek safety. Instead we marinate in zombie stories that tell us the “others” are coming to eat our brains.
    The refugees are us. It’s only going to get worse who knows who is going to be uprooted next?

    • Please stay tuned for my Flashback Friday post tomorrow. =)

    • BeyondTheRiversOfEthiopia

      I’ve lived in East and Central Africa for five years now and you can already see this happening here. Unfortunately anti-immigrant sentiment is also pretty strong here as well, which also hopefully isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

    • Zagarna_84

      I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again many more times, with increasing tiresomeness: the zombie apocalypse has already happened. Trump and his supporters ARE the zombie apocalypse.

  • dogboy

    SnowThaProduct did a great video trying to GOTV prior to the Trumpocalypse. Very nearly all in spanish, but you get the point in English

  • catbirdman
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