I think we can all agree that 2016 was a bit of a year. There were ups and downs worldwide, but the one person who constantly brought joy and artistry into our lives was Lin-Manuel Miranda. For the last two years the reception and admiration in response to his Tony award winning smash hit “Hamilton” has been non-stop. The original idea for the story of Hamilton was actually to be told in mixtape form. Lin was told time and time again that there was so much more to the story than a mixtape could provide.
However it was an idea in his head that he could never quite shake. So on December 2nd, Lin-Manuel Miranda dropped The Hamilton Mixtape, which features some of the greatest musicians in the game. From The Roots and Nas to Chance the Rapper and Wiz Khalifa, the album does a fantastic job of pleasing generational hip-hop fans. The artists featured on this album had the opportunity to either re-write versions of the original songs or just put their own artistic spin on things. When the songs really slow down voices like: John Legend, Alica Keys and Andra Day fill your ears.
Best Seven Songs off the Album (five was too hard):
- Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance the Rapper & Francis and the Lights
- Chance is easily one of the hottest rising acts of 2016. His stripped down version of Dear Theodosia accompanied by Francis and the Lights unique synth-pop voice leaves you breathless. The emotional journey you feel throughout the album comes at you fast and hard with this last song.
- Wrote My Way Out – Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
- East Coast Hip Hop meets West Coast Soul, a true rappers delight. Each verse flows from artist to artist conveying the powerful message of writing your own destiny.
- History Has It’s Eyes On You – John Legend
- We honestly don’t deserve John Legend. His soulful rendition of this song takes you to church and back again (twice).
- Helpless – Ashanti ft. Ja Rule
- The King and Queen of 00’s R&B duos. Hearing their voices compliment each other again is what dreams are made of. This cover allows listeners to imagine Ashanti and Ja Rule meeting for the first time. “We’ll get a little place in Queens and we’ll figure it out.”
- Burn – Andra Day
- Based on the original cast album “Burn” and “Wait For It” were going to be the hardest songs for someone to cover. Andra’s impeccable voice and soulful twist made this song incredible.
- Wait For It – Usher
- The bar for this song was set extremely high by Leslie Odom Jr., who really puts his heart and soul into the song making it the best song on the original album. However Usher’s ability to create riffs and hit the high notes necessary really sets the song apart from the original.
- Satisfied – Sia ft. Miguel & Queen Latifah
- The most incredibly diverse collaboration of the entire album. Sia’s electro pop sound really carries this song, which is then complimented beautifully with Miguel’s pure rhythm and blues. The jaw-dropper of this collaboration is when Queen Latifah comes into the song and drops bars for 30 seconds straight, she really takes the song to the next level.
For those who are unfamiliar with the songs on the original Broadway album, this mixtape provides listeners with a collection of genre defying collaborations. How many albums do you know off hand that has a song featuring Sia and Miguel with a fire verse by Queen Latifah? It is creativity like this that makes everything bad in the world just fade away, even if only for 74 minutes. The great thing about Hamilton is there are always more stories to tell because he lived such a complex life. One can only hope that the success of this album will inspire Lin and other artists to collaborate on another mixtape.