We take a look at the 2016 album which unites musical theatre with mainstream popular music like never before.
For those who caught ‘Hamalaria’ before the musical was even approaching UK shores, it was no surprise that when The Hamilton Mixtape was released in 2016 it not only debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200, but was also one of the biggest-selling compilation albums in recent memory, uniting musical theatre with mainstream music in a way that hadn’t been seen before.
The record-breaking musical, which began life as concept album, might now be blowing us all away in the UK, but it has transcended the theatre world with the release of the Mixtape; a mash-up of R&B and hip hop stars clambering to be involved with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s now iconic score.
With Questlove and Black Thought (both of The Roots, one of the most influential hip hop groups for the past 30 years) playing a huge part in bringing together a collection of artists that cover the spectrum of rap and R&B – including Usher, Ja Rule and Riz MC – the tape also takes in other genres with the inclusion of artists such as Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, Kelly Clarkson and Sia.
Here we take a look at some of our favourite tracks on the record!
Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc – Wrote My Way Out
Riffing on the themes featured in the Hamilton track Hurricane, this is also one of the latest in the series of The Hamildrops – a year-long project of brand new Hamilton-themed content from Miranda.
Sia feat Miguel & Queen Latifah – Satisfied
We’re so used to hearing Sia singing belters in the charts that the vulnerability in her voice here comes across as a sharp surprise. Satisfied is a significant moment in the show, exposing the intricacies in some of the character dynamics, and who better to mix it up but not one big hitter, but three.
Alicia Keys – That Would Be Enough
Obviously the queen of New York City had to be involved in this story of the “greatest city in the world” – and her stripped back take on Eliza’s lament delicately showcases the character’s struggle to find happiness with her ambitious husband.
Ashanti & Ja Rule – Helpless
If you’re like us, you’re probably having flashbacks to ‘00s midriffs, slow-mo music funk and the earworm chorus of this pair’s iconic Always on Time. But here, Ashanti demonstrates that she has the perfect voice to tell Eliza Schuyler’s sweet story as she falls in love with her beau, while Ja Rule adds a whole new depth (and gangster attitude) as the love-struck Hamilton.
Usher – Wait For It
This song is a brilliant R&B track. Usher’s all-round smoothness brings this song to life and shows off the best of his talent (including moments appropriate for a body pop). It takes him back to his You Make Me Wanna era, which is never a bad thing. It’s basically the classic Usher hit we never had.
Wiz Khalifa – Washingtons By Your Side
This is one of the more surprising songs on the mixtape – sounding like a Wiz original. It’s a play on Washington’s On Your Side – subtle, but he’s referring to dollar bills which have Washington’s face on them. He’s also written new rhymes for the track that powerfully reflect the Hamilton story, switching up the angle of the original song: “Don’t know who got your best interest/ But you don’t stop, you keep going/ They really talking, you live it/ When the time come you gon’ show it”.
K’NAAN, Snow the Product, Riz MC & Residente – Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)
Inspired by a single line in Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) that frankly stops the show every single night, this track fuses together the vocal stylings of Spanish rapper Residente (also a cousin of Miranda’s), Mexican-American hip hop artist Snow the Product and Canadian-Somalian rapper K’NAAN to represent the breadth and diversity of talent that immigration brings to the city of New York.
Check out the full album here:
Agree with our choices? What track on The Hamilton Mixtape is your favourite?
Tickets for Hamilton in London's West End are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.