The Hamilton Mixtape: An Undeniable Work of Art

Conor Metz

A world-famous pianist from North Carolina, a Somali-Canadian rapper, an Australian pop icon, a country music idol, and a hip-hop newcomer from the South Side of Chicago come together to record the life story of an American founding-father as told by a Puerto Rican New Yorker.

Inspired by the acclaimed Broadway musical, Hamilton,  written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Hamilton Mixtape is a musical masterpiece. Jam-packed with songs from the likes of Usher, Alicia Keys and The Roots, the album is one for the books. The added content and collaboration on the mixtape, released December 2, helps to tell the American story as well as, if not even better than, the original musical.

 

The Roots’ Questlove stands with the musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Both of the artists have song on the album, released December 2. (Photograph by Eric Ogden/Trunk Archive.)

As I listened to the mixtape for the first time, I could not help but feel a sense of Americanism. Not patriotism. Americanism. Patriotism is pride in one’s country, but the mixtape inspired more than just pride. There was embarrassment, shock, amazement, and curiosity. The Hamilton Mixtape is able to evoke all of these reactions because it does not sugar-coat American history. It tells of the horrors of war in “Valley Forge,” the brutality of infidelity in “Burn,” and the struggles in today’s America in “Immigrants,” a song unique to the mixtape. Inspired by a single line from the musical, the song is performed by artists with immigrant backgrounds. Hearing their first-hand accounts of prejudice, struggle, and success can stir up feelings of guilt, distaste, and joy.

The Hamilton Mixtape is a jam-packed with songs from established American icons and up-and-coming stars

Listening to all of the incredibly talented artists in each song could be likened to repeated blows to the gut by Lady Liberty—but in the good way. Track after track, established American icons like Queen Latifah and Common, as well as up-and-coming artists like Chance the Rapper, contribute to the powerhouse of a mixtape. Because the album’s variety of artists, each song is different than the last.

In “Who Tells Your Story,” I bobbed my head as Black Thought powerfully raps about legacy, but, only moments later, in “Dear Theodosia (Reprise),” I found myself staring into space pondering the meaning of it all as Francis and the Lights sings the words of Hamilton to his newborn son, Philip, who will later die protecting his father’s name. The album is a bit of a roller-coaster.

The Hamilton Mixtape is an undeniable work of art. After listening to the album from start to finish multiple times, I am left with new questions and new takeaways after every play. One final thought that has been consistent with each listen is that there is not enough mixtape. Even though there is more than an hour of play-time, I always feel like I need more. Luckily for me—and for all of the other listeners that are as enamored as I have been—these 23 songs are only part of the full collection. In a tweet from November, Miranda said, “Of course [there is going to be] volume two (let me finish volume one, though)!”

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “The Hamilton Mixtape: An Undeniable Work of Art”

  1. Camryn DeFilippo on December 13th, 2016 1:02 pm

    This is beautiful

    [Reply]

  2. Clare Souder on December 19th, 2016 2:03 pm

    Proud of you

    [Reply]

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