America’s greatest Broadway rapper is already putting his Pulitzer Prize to good use.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for his writing, composing, and starring in the hit historical musical Hamilton, made an unbelievable appearance spitting lyrics on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO yesterday. The rapper was making an intense plea for Congress to take pity on Puerto Rico, the nation where Miranda’s parents hailed from, as it faces government-caused financial strife.
The song capped off John Oliver’s main story of the evening, titled “Puerto Rico,” during which the Last Week Tonight host detailed in a nineteen-minute, deliberate succession how the little island nation, though legally a commonwealth of the United States, has been repeatedly swindled out of stability by the American government for the last several decades. Oliver laid out a series of laws and provisions passed to ensure Puerto Rico’s money troubles could be taken advantage of by American businessmen, especially hedge-funders, who profit from exploiting the poverty of the nation to make monetary-power grabs. The issues surrounding Puerto Rico’s debt are especially urgent as well because come May 1st, the country will hit a headline the US set to figure out its $70 billion debt or face consequences. Oliver–though he offered no promotional hashtag as he normally does–asked the public to stop seeing Puerto Rico as a festive island getaway and to instead see it as a member of the United States who desperately needs help.
“We need to stop treating Puerto Rico like it’s just a tax haven or a place to have terrifying sex with a stranger in a coconut mask,” said Oliver, “and instead, we have to start treating it like an island of American citizens whose fate is interwoven with ours.”
“And, look,” the host continued, “there are certainly better voices than mine to speak on behalf of Puerto Rico. Luckily, there is someone with Puerto Rican parents and an amazing voice.”
It was then that Miranda emerged into a pool of cold blue light and spit out an emotional, newly-composed rap that begged for the deserved mercy of the US government on its commonwealth. The words, which are below, heavily referenced points from Oliver’s segment, Miranda’s personal background, and the rapper’s visit to Congress last week where he asked the representatives then for help, saying that he would offer his services in any way he could.
“If Hamilton tickets will help, I’m happy to do that to,” he had said.
The full lyrics to the new song, entitled “100 Miles Across,” are on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tumblr page, but here’s an excerpt:
“To recap, three point five million
American citizens are on the hook for billions
vulture bonds are circling and lobbying for payout
there’s nothing left to tax or cut we’re stuck we need a way out
allow them to restructure there’s no structure for what happens
if you let this crisis play out, when May is less than a day out
the hard part is in
convincing Congress Puerto Rico matters so their heart is in
the fight for relief
not a bailout, just relief
a belief that you can pass legislation to ease our grief
Paul Ryan, I’ll come sing Hamilton at your house
I’ll do-si-do with Pelosi, I’ll wear my Hamilton blouse
your citizens are suffering, stop the bleeding, stop the loss,
help Puerto Rico, it’s just a hundred miles across.”
You can watch the full segment, including Miranda’s show-stopping performance, below.