Last year Lin-Manuel Miranda took Broadway by storm with his hit musical “Hamilton.” Miranda not only wrote the music, the lyrics and the entire script but also starred as founding father Alexander Hamilton, the titular character of the production. The musical became both a popular and critical powerhouse, finding success at the box office while also being nominated for an unprecedented 16 Tonys.
What sparked the entire idea for a musical documenting the life of Alexander Hamilton was the music itself. Miranda equated Hamilton to modern hip-hop artists, both known for their unique use of words in the art of rhetoric. The entire show was then based off a loosely constructed album which would eventually be refined and performed by the cast.
All these same songs, which were so successful on Broadway, have now been covered by notable artists and released as a mixtape.
Miranda tweeted in early November of last year that “The Hamilton Mixtape” would be dropping in December of 2016. The album was officially released on Dec. 2 and, as promised, the mixtape features a slew of features from the hip-hop and pop community. Notable features include artists Busta Rhymes, Nas, John Legend, Queen Latifah and Chance the Rapper among many others.
Questlove, frontman of the group The Roots, was brought on to produce the mixtape at Miranda’s request. When asked by Vanity Fair magazine why he chose Questlove as executive producer, Miranda underlined that he had been a longtime fan of The Roots. “That was the dream. The Roots played my Spring Fling senior year at [Wesleyan] college, and I was a huge fan of the Roots’ albums.”
The album boasts a varied and unique style delving not only into rap, but R&B, jazz and pop. Usher delivers an impassioned ballad speaking of discrimination on the track “Wait For It.” A recurring theme in both the album and the musical is one of America being a country built by immigrants. Miranda draws parallels between revolutionary times and modern America, condemning discrimination in favor of celebrating this country’s diversity and the debt it owes to its immigrants. One only needs to venture further into the album to see this point emphasized on the aptly named “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” which features a dizzying anglo-hispanic rap delivery by Snow Tha Product.
Then “My Shot,” the second track on the mixtape boasts an impressive Busta Rhymes feature which kicks the entire album off in a raucous manner. It seems only fitting that Busta Rhymes be given the task of carrying the first proper song since he was the first of the hip-hop community to see the musical.
When speaking with Vanity Fair, Miranda came to define this mixtape as a “love letter” to the hip-hop community, hoping they would embrace it fully. Based on the impressive features list, the album has been well received by these artists and by the public alike, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200.
Below you can find links to either buy the album from iTunes or to stream it on Apple Music or Spotify depending on your subscription.