The Hamilton Mixtape

Photo Cred: Aaron Pearce

Photo Cred: Aaron Pearce

Meleah York, Staff Writer

If you didn’t think that the soundtrack of Hamilton: An American Musical was incredible enough, musical creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has released an album of songs and raps by himself and fellow artists based on songs from Hamilton. Some songs are covered by artists like Usher (“Wait For It”) or Sia (“Satisfied”), even Alicia Keys (“That Would Be Enough”) and John Legend (“History Has Its Eyes On You”). All of these singers were amazingly passionate about the songs they recorded, and you can tell through the way they sing these brilliant songs by putting their own little spins on them. The most notable is what Legend does with “History Has Its Eyes On You.” He turns a calmer pump-up tune into a soulful melody accompanied by a piano.

Along with the covers, there are rap songs that became expansions to small phrases from the musical, such as “Wrote My Way Out”, “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”, and “My Shot (Rise Up Remix)”. These intricately expressed feelings of using writing as a way to rise above hardships and being a modern-day immigrant in the US connect directly to the main messages and lessons of the musical that relate to how the character Alexander Hamilton handled his own issues.

Probably the greatest feature of this album is the four songs cut from the musical itself; “An Open Letter” is chanted by Watsky. It’s a cut scene from Hamilton where Alexander writes a very…bold letter (to say the least), basically roasting Sam Adams and his wife, Abigail, which didn’t go over too well with earlier audiences, so it was slashed from the musical. Another is “Congratulations”, sung by Dessa, who represented Angelica confronting Alexander after the publication of the Reynolds Pamphlet.

But the most amazing tracks have got to be the last two cut songs, demos recorded by Lin-Manuel himself when he was still figuring out the order of each song in the musical. “Valley Forge” has a very dark tone against Lin’s beat-boxing in the background. This was the first version of “Stay Alive” in the original soundtrack, and it captures the desolate scene that was Valley Forge in the middle of winter. Feeling like it slowed down the musical, Lin modified it to where the musical felt upbeat and continuous. The second demo, “Cabinet Battle Three,” still features Lin on all of the parts in a cabinet battle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson (with George Washington and James Madison mediating), and the debate is different from the other two; it talks about slavery, which both men oppose, but while Hamilton tries to support Emancipation, Jefferson thinks that the South will be angry and demand compensation for the labor taken away. Throughout, it has a haunting beat with the eerie sound of chimes, and the ending decision made by Washington was sticking to the set year of 1808 to debate the issue, and “hop[ing] the next generation thinks of something better.”

Other great features include a comical cover of “You’ll Be Back” by Jimmy Fallon, passionate and fiery spins on “It’s Quiet Uptown” by Kelly Clarkson and “Burn” by Andra Day, and beat mixes (or mixtape ‘interludes’) of “Take A Break” (!Ilmind) and “Stay Alive”(J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot). There have been plans by Lin-Manuel Miranda for a second Hamilton Mixtape, and one can only look forward to a continuation of this masterpiece for years to come.