I finally have some time to myself. Don’t get me wrong, deadlines are still looming, but I’ve been working at it for weeks on end. I deserve a break. And what better break to have than to listen to this for the first time?
Now I’ve had this mixtape downloaded on my phone since the day it came out, December 2. And while I didn’t know when I was going to do it, I knew from the start that I wanted to listen to the whole thing in one sitting with no distractions whatsoever. And thanks to deadlines and my job and other events pertaining those, I was constantly forced to move this plan further and further into the month.
But now the day has finally come!
So this post will be a half first impressions, half review thing. I’ve never reviewed music in my life before—unless you count a positively-connoted “mmhmm” or jubilant stomping and shaking of fists as such—nor do I listen to a lot of hip hop, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. This is all purely personal, but feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as well.
Okay, enough waffling. I have been waiting so long for this. Leggo!
No John Trumbull (Intro) – The Roots
- “You ever seen a painting by John Trumbull?” I don’t even know the guy.
- Well, according to Wikipedia, he’s an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings. His painting of the Declaration of Independence is apparently on the reverse side of the two-dollar bill.
- Wasn’t aware that this song was on 46 seconds long. Had to listen to it a second time.
- It’s got strong beats. I like that.
- I mean, considering that it has ‘intro’ in the title, maybe I should’ve expected that. I don’t know, I’m dense.
My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix]
- OH SHIT THAT SEGUE!!
- I had to listen to No John Trumbull a third time because I did not see that coming!
- I had a listen to this ages ago when it came out as a preview of the mixtape as a whole and it was sick.
- But hearing that segue gOD DAMN!
- I’m sensing that the raspy voice saying ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’ in the background will be a recurring thing. Kind of like how Jason Derulo always says his name at the start of his songs.
- Love how Nate Ruess’ only bit in the song is the ‘oh, oh, oh’ parts.
- I’m still convinced that Busta Rhymes has three lungs.
- That segue wins everything, though.
- Yes, I’m still stuck on that segue.
- I’m a sucker for a sick segue, aight.
Wrote My Way Out (Explicit) – Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
- YOOOOOOOO IT’S HURRICANE!!
- So glad that they left bits of the original song in this remix.
- That chorus. Each repetition is better than the previous. Aloe Blacc is killing it.
- “Y’all, I caught my first beatin’ from the other kids when I was caught readin’ / “Oh, you think you smart? Blah! Start bleedin'” / My pops tried in vain to get me to fight back / Sister tapped my brains, said, pssh, you’ll get ’em right back / Oversensitive, defenceless, I made sense of it, I pencil in / The lengths to which I’d go to learn my strengths and knock ’em senseless / These sentences are endless, so what if they leave me friendless? / Damn, you got no chill, fuckin’ right I’m relentless”.
- “So it’s up to me to draw blood with this pen, hit an artery”. Talk about the pen being mightier than the sword.
Wait For It – Usher
- THIS IS MY #1 FAVOURITE SONG FROM THE REAL THING THOUGH
- IT HITS HARD
- That intro from 0:12 – 0:21, though.
- Usher’s sticking to the original lyrics but draws the lines when he sings?
- Okay, that was apparently reserved for the first verse only.
- He changed the character’s names into pronouns like ‘everyone faces an uphill climb’ and ‘you’ve got something to prove/ you’ve got nothing to lose’. Love that!
- I’ll be honest, it is a bit underwhelming overall. It was nice, but it didn’t have as much to it like the original. I don’t know. I think it might be because I already have such an attachment to the Leslie Odom Jr. version, clean and simple, powerful in a personal kind of way and reveals so much about Aaron Burr and I just relate so much, my god.
- I might warm up to it after a few listens. Gotta give it some time.
An Open Letter (feat. Shockwave) [Interlude] [Explicit] – Watsky
- So many parentheses.
- These segues are messing with my head (but in a good way!) I thought I was still listening to ‘Wait For It’. I, in fact, was not.
- It’s probably best not to listen to this entire mixtape on shuffle because it’ll defeat the point of all these segues.
- This is basically a callout song for President John Adams.
- In fact, take out all of the rapping and this is a callout poetry for President John Adams.
- Lol that monotone “cool” at the end.
Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia
- AW SHIT THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE SONG FROM THE MIXTAPE PREVIEW
- Sia’s vocals is absolute fire!
- I will say, though, the first time I listened to this I was so weirded out, especially Queen Latifah’s bit, because I was so used to listening to Renee Elise Goldsberry rap.
- Like Queen Latifah’s amazing and all, but it was out of left field at first.
- Takes some getting used to.
- Cause of death: the “helpless” bit.
- This is definitely, undoubtedly, one of my favourite songs from the mixtape.
- Aaaaand I’m sad that it’s over.
Dear Theodosia (feat. Ben Folds) – Regina Spektor
- This is such a cute song. Parenthood and all that.
- It’s very reminiscent of the original and I like it.
- This song just makes me really happy and Regina’s voice is pretty as heck.
Valley Forge (Demo) [Explicit] – Lin-Manuel Miranda
- What is this.
- This is interesting. Sound quality’s definitely different.
- Oh, wait, is this ‘Stay Alive’?
- Yeah, this is definitely ‘Stay Alive”s origin story.
- “Hit ’em quick, get out fast’ ‘Uh huh’. Yeah, it does not have the same ring as “chick-a-plao”.
It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson
- Again, it sticks close to the original and changes up the names with pronouns to make it more personable.
- It has a more positive vibe about it, which I also like. But within the Hamilton universe and the significance of this song to the plot, some bits of Kelly’s cover doesn’t quite… fit. It works, yet at the same time if you were to listen to this song without any prior knowledge of Hamilton, you’ll probably need context.
That Would Be Enough – Alicia Keys
- Literally the second Alicia starts singing, I get shivers all over.
- Other than the added instrumentation, it’s pretty close to the original as well.
- This is so beautiful, oh my god.
- Alicia would make a killer Eliza.
- Oh, turns out there are some additional lyrics. Alright, jazz up the song a bit. Give it a bit of an Alicia flair.
- That sounds really sarcastic. I wasn’t. It’s quite a nice touch, actually.
Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) [Explicit] – K’Naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC & Residente
- “Immigrants, we get the job done” will never not be the best line in all of Hamilton.
- “It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, ‘immigrant’ have somehow become a bad word.” PREACH!
- How do people rap in a completely different language? It’s sick!
- The bridge!
- “We’re America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed” is such my favourite line from this song.
- Had to look up the Spanish bits of the song because, you know, I don’t speak or understand the language that much.
- This whole song’s, again, a massive callout on racists and those who are anti-immigration. It’s such a clever song, but it’s sad that things like immigration and discrimination is still something that does not get through people’s heads.
- Oh, and fun fact: this song dropped on the day Trump was announced as president elect.
– Quite apt, don’t you think?
You’ll Be Back – Jimmy Fallon & The Roots
- Just get to the song, Jimmy. I’ve heard you sing; I don’t need to know if you were classically trained. Stop talking.
- Is this song meant to be act to be a funny interlude or some kind of mood whiplash—
- Oh, wait. He’s finally singing.
- Love Jimmy and it is a funny song, but Groffsauce takes the cake.
Helpless (feat. Ja Rule) – Ashanti
- – The shivers have returned.
- “Shawty made her way across the room” nAH I’M CRYING
- I don’t mean that in a bad way, but can you imagine Angelica being called shawty?
- You probably can, to be honest..
- Unless they’re referring to someone else entirely? It’s not like anyone naming names or anything. Still hilarious, though.
- “Laughing at this girl ’cause she wants to form a harem.” “…No, I ain’t sharing.”
- This is a trip down memory lane like it’s got 90s R&B/hip hop vibes all over it.
Take A Break (Interlude) – !llmind
- This is interesting.
- I’m not entirely sure what it is. It was the intro ‘Take a Break’ with record scratches, a tambourine, drums, and beatboxing played over it? It was cool, I will say that.
Say Yes To This – Jill Scott
- Okay, at least this one implies that consent is involved.
- Oh, no, hang on.
- Is this song just “Say No To This” but told from Maria Reynolds’ point of view? Because if so, that’s actually quite cool.
- Or it could also just be a woman trying to get a (random) man to sex her up or something.
- Either way, consent is not really there. Again.
- Not that there is much happening. She’s really horny and isn’t getting what she wants. Her ploy ain’t working. She also creeps me out a bit.
Congratulations – Dessa
- I listened to a demo version of the one that was cut out of the play and I just want to say Lin why.
- Would kind of derail the play a bit, I guess. Either that, or portions of it are put into ‘The Reynolds Pamphlet’.
- “I languished in a loveless marriage in London / I lived only to read your letters”. Damn, girl.
- The violin bits are slaying my life.
- It’s such an Angelica song, though. The sass and emotions are real.
Burn – Andra Day
- She sounds a bit like Lana del Rey. Can’t say for sure, though. I don’t listen to Lana and I’ve never heard of Andra before this. Soz.
- Damn, she has some powerful vocals.
- Dare I say I like this more than the original?
Stay Alive (Interlude) – J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot
- A bunch of really cool record scratches and drumbeats juxtaposed against bits of ‘Stay Alive’.
- That’s all there is to say about it.
Cabinet Battle 3 (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Just imagine Cabinet Battle 1 & 2, but about slavery and also a lot calmer.
It’s tough to picture, I know.
Washington By Your Side – Wiz Khalifa
- This song is best described as what Thomas Jefferson would be like had he been alive in the 21st century, still bitter and a smidge less dickish.
- Just a smidge.
- Don’t get me wrong, it still reeks of douchebaggery, but I’m assuming Wiz is just sticking to Jefferson’s character.
History Has Its Eyes On You – John Legend
- Imagine Washington singing gospel.
- Not a huge fan of this one, unfortunately. It could just be me having never listened to gospel before—not properly anyway—so I’m just kind of meh about it.
- John’s vocals are killer, though.
Who Tells Your Story (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson) – The Roots
- Oh, this is going to be fire, I can tell.
- That remix of ‘who lives, who dies, who tells your story’ in the background, though. Yes!
- The instrumentation is amazing. It’s like one of those instrumental tracks from action movies that make you feel badass and, let me tell you, I am all about that.
- Watch me walk down the street listening to this. I’ll be walking with purpose. I am on a mission.
- Yep, this is a definite favourite.
Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance the Rapper & Francis and the Lights
- I wonder why they decided to end it with a reprise of ‘Dear Theodosia’.
- OH SHIT WASN’T EXPECTING THAT LIN TWIST
- Nah, wait, what is happening? Did they autotune his voice or did they segue to someone else halfway through the line?
- Yes, I have not forgotten about the segues.
- This is another favourite. It’s beautiful. A different kind of beautiful from Regina Spektor’s one, but I love it just as much.
- Okay, I think I see why they ended with this. It’s because of the “you’ll blow us all away” and “make the world safe and sound for you”. They wanted to end it on a hopeful note. That’s my theory, anyway. If that turns out to be true, then that’s really cute of them ☺️
If you’ve made it this far into my post, then thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my first impressions/review of ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’. Have you listened to it? What did you think of it? And if you haven’t, would you be interested to? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post.
Until next time,
Feliz Navidev 🎄