Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, tick, tick… BOOM!, arrived on Netflix last month.
The film is a dazzling and heartfelt ode to showbiz and the late, singular Broadway talent and Rent composer Jonathan Larson. Miranda’s film is an adaptation of Tick, Tick … Boom!, a musical version of Larson’s meta-musical about writing a musical. It’s a must-watch for anyone with a proclivity for musical theatre.
I watched it last night and was moved to tears. Those tears then transformed into tears of laughter after remembering that a young Lin-Manuel Miranda was a victim of high school bullying by none other than Immortal Technique.
In a 2016 episode of the WTF With Marc Maron podcast, the Hamilton creator revealed that Immortal Technique was his high school’s bully.
“He was our school bully. He terrorized kids, he threw them in the garbage,” Miranda said. “I got thrown in the garbage by him.”
Eventually, the two students hashed out their beef onstage, bonding over a shared love of hip-hop. “He got a part senior year [in the school play] and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a fucking play with the dude that scares the shit out of all my friends,’” Miranda told Maron.
Following Miranda’s appearance on the podcast, a change.org petition was launched to “Get Immortal Technique to Throw Lin-Manuel Miranda in the trash can again.”
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The rapper responded to the campaign, tweeting, “Whoever made this. Pls take it down. He wasn’t dissing me, it was a story about personable growth & media twisted it.” He added, “Much Love & Respect for my brother & his beautiful family.”
He also released a lengthy statement addressing his high school behaviour, which you can read in full below, if you feel so inclined:
The other day, in response a to a slew of articles that came out about my young life, Lin Manuel Miranda and many others were gracious enough to point out the changes I have made and the humanitarian actions I have been a part of since high school. After listening to the podcast that all of this originated from, we both found the click-bait headlines misleading. It was a story about personal growth and redemption, and people twisted it into us being long-time adversaries.
We have always been very proud of each others’ success, and we even joked about these articles with each other on Twitter over the weekend. To this day I’m appreciative to say that we are friends, we are both staunch supporters of immigrant rights, and we will continue the fight against bigotry in our respective ways. I guess I could’ve taken the humorous route and said something like “And you thought it was hard for YOU to get tickets to Hamilton.” I just thought, that without a larger context, something could be lost in all this friendly exchange. I wouldn’t want my supporters to get the impression that anyone was trying to normalize childish bullying, especially coming from someone who now fights for others.
People have told me that back in high school they saw me as both a reckless antagonist and a well-meaning vigilante. I protected the people close to me from kids in school and fought hard against outside groups looking to herb kids. But I also had very little patience with many of the kids who went there, and I even took my anger out on those who were trying to help me. I rarely stopped to think about what that person was going through. I thought by showing strength and power, people would fear me and therefore respect me. As a result I’m sorry to say that I hurt some of the people I should have been protecting. I ended up exacerbating a lot of my problems. And I guess at 17 it was hard for me to see that the person I was really fighting was myself.
I want to be very clear with my supporters, I wasn’t just a bully in as a kid, I was a criminal. I lived a very violent life. I did way worse things that I don’t choose to glorify — things worse than harassing kids and put them in trash cans. I robbed, I stole, I sold drugs, I ran with gangs. I have never hidden this part of myself. In a way growing out of that, helps me relate to the kids out there, sometimes a lot more than people who never experienced these things. But I can’t excuse my behavior by simply claiming I lived in a non-gentrified NYC.
As adults we like to think that children are going to come to us with all of their problems. The sad reality is that they often don’t. I used to see violence as the answer to all my problems with someone else. The sad reality is that when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. I understand that there are some people who will never see me as anything more than the angry young person I was 20 years ago. I think that’s unfortunate, however as an adult I have to accept that and hope that at least some of them will look at my life’s work since then and understand that a real change is possible.