This song shares a chorus and the "Woah"s with "My Shot" from Hamilton the Musical, but the verses by Black Thought of The Roots, Joell Ortiz and Busta Rhymes are all original.
Nate Ruess from Fun! croons the "Woahs." Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda recalled to iHeartRadio:
"When we thought about the chorus and the 'Woahs' from the original, which really were the only things we saved, we said, 'Alright, who's got a great, soaring voice? Oh, Nate Ruess from Fun!' It doesn't get more soaring than that, he's sort of our generation's ... I don't know. Who else has notes like that? Maybe Freddie Mercury? It's such an incredible voice.
That's one where, when he came to the show, he came backstage to say hi, and I go, 'Um, I have an idea for you.' And he said yes right away, so he sang our Woah's."
Joell Ortiz, who croons the second verse, is a Puerto Rican, Brooklyn-born MC and was one of Miranda's writing inspirations for Hamilton. Miranda recalled:
"There's a song in my show called 'The Farmer Defeated.' We've got this British royalist going (singing) and Hamilton listens to him once, and then sings over him, matching him syllable for syllable, but saying different things. So singing and that technique was something I was influenced by Joell Ortiz's Big Pun Tribute, where he basically covers Big Pun, but doesn't cover Big Pun. He writes his own lyrics but every syllable and vowel match Big Pun's original lyrics. So, that's one where I'm influenced by this MC, and then I get the privilege of watching him write a new verse to this song."
Black Thought explained his verse to Billboard magazine:
"What I was speaking to in my verse is perseverance and the fact that as people we're all just walking stories. Each person has a different narrative, so to speak, and the people that you interact with - at its best - you're able to walk away after that interaction having gained something positive, or being able to add something memorable that resonates to you and your story. So in all these different stories, you cross paths at certain points in time - sometimes only once, sometimes you'll cross paths with someone a few different times - but in my verse I spoke to not being defined by your back story or limited by what someone says your story statistically should be, if that makes any sense."
Black Thought also raps the hook.
I said I'm not throwin' away my shot
Yo I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
Asked by Billboard what the lyric means to him, Black Thought replied: "When it was written for the actual production, it personified the country. It was a young, new nation that was brave in that it was going into uncharted territory, but fearlessly and with a thirst for freedom and liberty. I feel like freedom, liberty, equality are sort of age-old desires and age-old gifts that sometimes we're able to achieve through the ages, and sometimes the struggle kind of continues. But that's what I feel the chorus is about."
Lin-Manuel Miranda sang "My Shot" for his opening monolog when he hosted Saturday Night Live.
Miranda said to NME of Busta Rhymes' contribution: "I cried when I heard Busta Rhymes's voice on 'My Shot.' To see how deep he went and give voice to an idea that had been in my head for so long was overwhelming."