For Christmas, The Boy got me the Hamilton Mixtape. I uploaded it to my laptop and synced that with my ipod last night. I think I’ve listened to it 6 or 7 times since. I am ready to express more nuanced (but still shortform) opinions than “OMG” and “*SQUEE*” behind the cut.
Overall: I love it. I was expecting it to be largely minor deviations on the score from the show, and some of the tracks are exactly that, but it’s the ones that really play with themes and only sampling/referencing the libretto that shine.
No John Trumbull: Dunno if this was in the libretto before the show hit off-Broadway or The Roots are responsible for most of it but two thumbs up; wouldn’t mind if it was longer but if it was an intro to the original stage show, I can see why it’s not. Flows perfectly into…
My Shot (Rise Up Remix): one of my favorite parts of the libretto is the but adapted by Busta Rhymes in this track so even if that was the only thing I liked about this track, I would love it. But it uses the original My Shot as wallpaper for a song about how black men experienced so-called “post-racial” America growing up; some experiences universal, some specific to people of color. Also: “d-d-d-damn, you got no chill!”
Wrote My Way Out: okay everything I said about My Shot after the first sentence applies here. I’m not eloquent enough to say it all again but with different words.
Wait for It: I dig it. Not a lot of variation from the original track, but it’s Usher. I don’t go out of my way to listen to him but I don’t kick him outta the bed of my brain for eatin crackers, either.
An Open Letter (Interlude): I see why this didn’t stay in the original show but it makes me giggle.
Satisfied: perfectly serviceable cover. kinda boring compared to so many of the other tracks. Really dug Queen Latifah poppin in as Angelica though.
Dear Theodosia: I love Regina Spektor, I love Ben Folds. If this entire album was what I thought it was gonna be, this would be my fave track. But since it’s NOT…with no context I like it a lot. In the context of the album, it’s good but there’s lots better. C+
Valley Forge: clearly cannibalized for the final show track Stay Alive. The bits that didn’t make it are still great though; tonally much less a rallying cry but I can see that working with the show too (though maybe it wouldn’t have been such a popular track? who knows)
It’s Quiet Uptown: another slightly varied track cover, and Kelly Clarkson is not my kinda music. Have started skipping this track because why eat a mountain of unbuttered spinach when I could have cookies?
That Would Be Enough: Beautiful, but basically a cover. I mean Alicia Keyes has a fantastic voice, so I usually still listen. But if you’ve read this far and not gotten that the “slightly different cover” songs are my least favorite you might want to work on your reading comprehension.
Immigrants (We Get the Job Done): Possibly my favorite track. Really enjoy this one. I feel like there’s a LOT to unpack with this one, it’s the richest lyrically. Not gonna write a full essay on it right now, but here’s a tidbit: for Riz MC’s verse (the British guy) we get a bit of standard White Male point of view, but it’s coming from a man with an East End London accent (poorer area, crime ridden, every London gangster movie you’ve ever seen was full of this accent)–the poor that think they’re on top, or could be if the man wasn’t holding them down. But hey! Riz is not white! Riz is an immigrant too, parroting what he gets hurled at him, and at other immigrants in England and the US. Plot twist!
You’ll Be Back: okay. you knew this was coming. I was prepared to hate it. I tried to listen to it and he did that weird breathing thing in the intro and OH MY GOD SHUT UP! I hit next. But this morning I had to either listen to it or let go of my umbrella. When he sings it’s a pretty decent cover. He sings well. Rolls his Rs too much. Not Groff, but, who is? *shrug*
Helpless: meh. Well done but still one of the covers with minor changes. Ashanti is great, there’s something about JA Rule’s intonation that rubs me wrong.
Take a Break (Interlude): initially was pissed about this one, but I read the history of this track-!llmind created this sample for a woman to dance to for Ham4Ham.
Say Yes to This: LOVE. Initially I thought it was gonna be another cover and I was disappointed because that’s a waste of Jill Scott (with regard to this album anyway) but it’s both an excellent stand alone piece and a fab companion piece to Say No to This
Congratulations: oh man, I wish this stayed in the show! Such snark! Favorite line “you’re the only enemy you ever seem to lose to!”
Burn: previously unfamiliar with Andra Day. She sings amazingly and honestly, though I stopped listening to most new r&b in like, 1993, I’m thinking of going back and gettin’ some more. This is definitely one of the best of the covers.
Stay Alive (Interlude): it’s 30 seconds long. not a whole lot to comment on; almost no lyrics sung, and the ones that are are sampled. but it includes the “chicka-plao!” which everyone loves. *shrug*
Cabinet Battle #3: understand why it was cut but OMG I HATE THAT IT WAS CUT FROM THE SHOW.
Washingtons By Your Side: initially wasn’t too into it but it grows on me with every listen.
History Has Its Eyes on You: Biggest disappointment. I mean John Legend is John Legending it all over the place but another straight cover. I had really high expectations for this one based entirely on it being John Legend, and I felt let down after listening to everything earlier on the album.
Who Tells Your Story: another contender for favorite track; really lovin the vocals from Common, the lyrics are smart, and I read that Lin actually based the stuff he wrote for Washington on Common’s musical style. Which, since I love Washington’s raps best (though he tends to be less energetic musically than Ham) means I’ll have to check out more Common. “Have heart, must travel.”
Dear Theodosia (reprise): my #1 fave of the covers. There’s a naked vulnerability in Chance the Rapper’s voice that goes perfectly with the content, especially at the end of the second verse when they both sing the words “and I thought I was so smart.” Legit thought Francis and the Lights was Lin for that first “oooh Phillip.”
So, there ya go.