The Hamilton Mixtape: A Song by Song Analysis

The Hamilton Mixtape: A Song by Song Analysis

In 2009, a young Broadway star performed at the White House for a night of poetry and spoken word and received a standing ovation. That young hopeful was soon-to-be Broadway legend Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rap song he performed was an early version of Alexander Hamilton, the first song from the smash musical Hamilton. Originally, Hamilton was to be a mixtape of songs pertaining to the life of the first Treasury Secratary Alexander Hamilton. However, he put the project on hold when he was convinced by his friend Tommy Kail (director of Hamilton) to make it a musical instead. After working on the project for five years, Hamilton: An American Musical opened at The Public Theatre in 2014, before moving to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theater in August of that same year. The mixtape idea never left Lin and, after the musical’s massive success, Lin decided to recruit other major figures in rap, R&B, and pop music to record their own versions of the songs from the show, as well as contribute their own original songs. Today, The Hamilton Mixtape was finally released after seven years of development.

1. No John Trumbull (Intro) – The Roots

The project starts off with an intense and sincere opening from Black Thought of the Roots as he teases what you’re about to hear, contrasting Hamilton & John Trumbull. The beat is grooving and Black Thought’s flow is strong. The track serves as an intriguing and strong introduction to the mixtape.

Track Rating: 10/10

2. My Shot (ft. Busta Rhymes, Joel Ortiz, & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix] – The Roots

This was the first of seven singles released from the mixtape. The track takes the most important, popular, and inspirational song from the musical and applies it’s messages to the modern day. The shining star of the track is easily Joel Ortiz’s stirring verse that showcases his prowess and a new comer to the game and captures the feel of the song the most out of anyone on the track. Busta Rhymes’ verse comes second. This remix brings traditional rap and mixes it with the ingenuity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.

Track Rating: 7/10

3. Wrote My Way Out (ft. Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Aloe Blacc) – Nas

Sampling Hamilton‘s “Hurricane”, Nas and company present one of the most stirring and original tracks on the mixtape. With a stunning hook by Aloe Blacc, Nas’ verse evokes an inspirational response from the listener with his rise from poverty. Dave East presents a similar verse, but it doesn’t quite land. It’s Lin-Manuel’s verse that rings true and brings the emotional response, as he delves into his childhood and bullying. The song is a tribute to the people who were able to write their way out of their situations.

Track Rating: 10/10

4. Wait For It – Usher

Usher covers one of my favorite songs from the musical and brings a bit of pop flavor. Honestly, Usher plays it very safe compared to what I was expecting. There isn’t much to say here. It’s decent.

Track Rating: 6/10

5. An Open Letter (ft. Shockwave) [Intermission] – Watsky

I came into this one blind. I didn’t know Watsky or Shockwave. The track takes the original verse intended for the Hamilton song “The Adams Administration”. Watsky brings a fast-paced criticism of John Adams and delivers an explosive track.

Track Rating: 10/10

6. Satisfied (ft. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia

Sia’s cover of Satisified inflames a song that screams pop to new levels of pop, implanting Queen Latifah’s rapping in the fast part and a quick cameo from Miguel. The track is good and Sia does something fun with an already fun song.

Track Rating: 7/10

7. Dear Theodosia (ft. Ben Folds) – Regina Spektor

The song itself feels like an old style alternative song in the vein of Plain White T’s, so holding true to that and bringing so bright, colorful pop sounds to it elevates the song. Regina Spektor is stellar and absolutely owns the track.

Track Rating: 8/10

8. Valley Forge (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda

This mixtape would be remiss excluenyhe father of Hamilton himself from contributing some tracks. The first of Miranda’s two tracks is a demo for a rejected song from the show. The song follows George Washington’s men at Valley Forge. The song essentially appeared in the show anyways as most of the song appears in the song “Stay Alive”. Seeing as this song is a broken- down, alternate version of a song we got already. For that reason alone, the song doesn’t hit as hard.

Track Rating: 6/10

9. It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson

The emotional song from the show talks about the mourning of the family after the loss of Alexander’s son Phillip. Kelly brings an emotional performance but the song’s production puts too much influence on the added trap beat.

Track Rating: 6/10

10. That Would Be Enough – Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys’ vocals are beautiful in this cover from the show. The song is even more emotional and cinematic on the mixtape than in the show.

Track Rating: 7/10

11. Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) [ft. Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, & Residente] – K’NAAN

This original song about immigration samples “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” from the show. The song has a good groove and nice message.

Track Rating: 6/10

12. You’ll Be Back – Jimmy Fallon & The Roots

Jimmy Fallon’s comical cover of You’ll Be Back, a comical song in the show, is a fun pairing. Fallon does not have a great voice, but the production is solid.

Track Rating: 5/10

13. Helpless (ft. Ja Rule) – Ashanti

Ashanti’s cover of Helpless is great. Her voice is beautiful and the chemistry she shares with Ja Rule is excellent.

Track Rating: 8/10

14. Take A Break (Interlude) – !llmind

This trap beat break that remixes and samples the opening of “Take A Break” is excellent and has a dance groove to it that rocks.

Track Rating: 10/10

15. Say Yes To This – Jill Scott

This soulful answer to Hamilton‘s “Say No To This” is a beautiful southern beat groove that absolutely kills it. Jill’s voice is super rich. It’s a delight.

Track Rating: 9/10

16. Congratulations – Dessa

Dressa’s modern pop/rap song is perfect and absolutely kills it & says exactly what everyone is thinking about Alexander’s mistake. Told from the perspective of Angelica, the song is an excellent track that brings originality to a mixtape of remixes and covers.

Track Rating: 10/10

17. Burn – Andra Day

Andra’s cover of Burn is excellent and absolutely stirs the listener. The song is gorgeous and her voice is powerful.

Track Rating: 10/10

18. Stay Alive (Interlude) – J. Period

J. Period’s 30 second intermission is a nice little remix that moves the mixtape along. It seems unnecessary however. The remix is not much of a remix

Track Rating: 4/10

19. Cabinet Battle 3 (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda

The second demo from Lin is much better. The cabinet battles are some of the best parts of the show and the fact that a third one exists is excellent. Dealing with slavery is a great debate that makes me wonder what if.

Track Rating: 9/10

20. Washingtons By Your Side – Wiz Khalifa

This mixtape was a revolutionary step forward for rap music just like the musical….until Wiz showed up with the stereotypical rap song about money that waists a sample of “Washington On Your Side” on this trash.

Track Rating: 1/10

21. History Has Its Eyes On You – John Legend

This beautiful southern gospel rendition of the Hamilton song is fantastic, gorgeous and stirring. John Legend’s vocals are amazing.

Track Rating: 10/10

22. Who Tells Your Story (ft. Common & Ingrid Michaelson) – The Roots

Sampling the final song from the show should’ve been a beautiful ending to this good mixtape, but sadly, it’s waisted on a mediocre song with mediocre verses.

Track Rating: 3/10

23. Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance The Rapper

This remix is another waisted opportunity. It doesn’t work. The raspy vocals hurt the cover.

Track Rating: 5/10

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Hamilton Mixtape over all is a great piece of music and takes the music from the greatest musical of the 21st century and popularizes it further with new takes.

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