By Hallie Underwood, ’20
Lin Manuel Miranda’s second album comes full circle and delivers to the world the mixtape that sparked a revolution of its own: the first ideas of the musical that has left audiences brimming each night until January. The Hamilton Mixtape, based off of Hamilton, has released two tracks each Friday since November, but its official debut was at midnight on Friday, Dec. 2.
Miranda began writing about the life of Alexander Hamilton after reading historian Ron Chernow’s biography on vacation. His creativity has brought a broadway musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City and a newly added production in Chicago, which both include diverse casts, hundreds of sold out shows and a viral video of Vice-President elect, Mike Pence, that your Aunt surely showed you at Thanksgiving.
Above that, though, Hamilton has brought an appreciation for the individuals who shaped the country’s history, and a newfound sense of pride to be an American. To keep the spirit of the musical alive after eight successful years, Miranda, with the help of hip-hop, rap and pop artists, is releasing a mixtape celebrating the songs of Hamilton and incorporating today’s political issues with rhythmic brilliance.
If one has ever listened closely to the “Cabinet Battles” of Hamilton, it would come to no surprise Miranda continues to have a way with words in his second creation. True Hamilton fanatics find no difficulty in singing along with the new tracks even the first time they are released. While some of the songs are covers, like Sia’s unique version of Satisfied or Usher’s Wait For It, others build upon a lyric in the original broadway songs. Immigrants, for example, is represented through simply a few of the musical’s seconds, in which quick-witted Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette utter in unison, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” The two, originally played by Miranda and Daveed Diggs, exchange a prideful glare and share a high-five as the audience erupts into the thunderous applause the line has prompted.
Along with the catchy lyrics that were long since memorized come new rhymes that amplify the astonishing sounds of freedom still ringing today. Despite all of America’s progress, Miranda has reminded the nation that we are still working towards the faultless country the founding fathers envisioned. Immigrants projects the debate of border security that is so often discussed today, and is told by the point of view of immigrants. The words so vigorously expressed caused the argument to be intelligently made, and with the song’s release being three days after the past presidential election, the argument was well overdue.
The brains behind these lyrics are heard in Wrote My Way Out, an emotional verse surrounding a childhood memory of Miranda’s. Miranda retells a beating by his peers for getting caught reading and being mocked for his intellect. Although his father urged him to do so, Miranda listened to his sister and did not fight back, for he would undeniably prove his worth in years to come. The messages behind The Hamilton Mixtape causes one to think beyond a catchy lyric and apply meaning to their own surroundings, as any extraordinary album should.
If social studies teachers, Lin Manuel Miranda, or his broadway hit have not yet convinced bewildered high school students that the history of the United States is compelling, you can take it from the hip-hop you trust the most. Each track on The Hamilton Mixtape delivers an exceptional beat behind influential dispute, and artists not unfamiliar to the teenage audience have brought “aux-worthy” performances.
The Roots offer a ground-breaking version of My Shot for jam sessions on long family road trips this Holiday break, and Kelly Clarkson a moving version of “It’s Quiet Uptown” to look out the car window and pretend you’re in a sad music video. For anyone who fears the mixtape will not be up to par with the original broadway cast recording, Miranda included a Cabinet Battle 3 and a song entitled Valley Forge, performed by himself and adding to Hamilton‘s storyline. John Legend delivers a sweet, feel-good version of History Has Its Eyes on You, and even talk show host Jimmy Fallon takes the opportunity to add a touch of humor to the album with You’ll Be Back. Nevertheless, the mixtape extends to everyone’s favorite genres and artists. And was it mentioned Chance the Rapper finally makes his historical debut as Aaron Burr? He takes on the responsibility of a reprise of the Hamilton ballad, Dear Theodosia.
As midterm exams are approaching, it could be beneficial to begin your morning with a hearty breakfast and a listen to The Hamilton Mixtape to bring your flashcards on the government’s foundation and arguments to life. While this new music is helpful in connecting to your studying, a bad time to hear the mix is unimaginable. The album is available on Spotify and iTunes, but a hardcopy can be bought on Amazon to experience the real ’90s mixtape feel. Miranda has really outdone himself, and his announcement for an eventual second volume on Twitter should only add to its greatness.