Highlights: Various Artists, ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’


The Hamilton Mixtape © Atlantic

★★★★

Lin-Manual Miranda and a star-studded cast strikes gold with ‘The Hamilton Mixtape,’ a compilation of covers, reinterpretations, and newbies.

Hamilton was kind of a big deal…just a little bit.  With the musical continuing to allure America, Lin-Manual Miranda and an all-star cast fittingly assemble a mixtape based upon it. The Hamilton Mixtape is by no means a carbon copy of the soundtrack, but features some fantastic covers, reinterpretations, and demos.  The mixtape will never supersede the parent album, but is a welcome supplement.  

“My Shot” & “Wrote My Way Out”

The energetic “My Shot (Rise Up Remix)” features an all-star cast: The Roots, Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz, and Nate Ruess.  Ultimately, “My Shot” proves to be a sensational, uplifting start to the tape.  Wrote My Way Outfeatures Aloe Blacc, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nas. Blacc sounds incredibly soulful, growing more so as the record progresses. Hard, anchoring hip-hop beat supports the rappers on the verses. Overall, the record features excellent production work – perfect fuel for the fire. Indeed, Nas, East, and, Miranda excel on their respective verses.  Blacc is the perfect vocal complement, without question.

Rapper and slam poet Watsky provides a treat on interlude “An Open Letter,” with the help of Shockwave.  The best moment comes at the end:

“Sit down John, you fat motherf*cker!”

Fittingly, a mocking version of “Hail to the Chief” closes the interlude.

“Satisfied”

Sia is assisted by Miguel and Queen Latifah on an electrifying cover of Satisfied.” “Satisfied” opens with Sia singing powerfully. The timbre of Sia’s voice is simply beautiful, perfectly suited to cover the hip-hop infused musical track. Miguel joins on the interlude, serving as a perfect complement to Sia. Queen Latifah handles her rap like a champ.  Her flow sounds as strong as ever. “Satisfied” remains theatrical and truly satisfying.

“It’s Quiet Uptown”

Kelly Clarkson nails It’s Quiet Uptown,” one of the better covers on the mixtape. While we initially criticized the rendition (given some differences compared to the definitive original), given a second look, this is another welcome addition to Clarkson’s catalogue. The treatment as an urban-pop ballad is a superb fit for Clarkson. Initiating with lush pads, “It’s Quiet Uptown” sounds like the 80s-inspired sound of her 2015 album, Piece by Piece. 

“Say Yes to This” is one of the pleasant surprises.  Jill Scott is perfectly suited for this risqué, sexy joint, among the more adventurous features. Her best moment: “I’m so wide open, and so is my dress.” As always, John Legend blesses us with his gospel-tinged performance on “History Has Its Eyes on You.” Legend successfully contrasts the original, putting his own spin on it.

Final Thoughts

All in all, The Hamilton Mixtape is a terrific Christmas gift…ahead of Christmas. While nothing supplants the original Broadway recording, this set of covers, reinterpretations, and newbies is enjoyable through and through.  There are ample moments to tickle a wide variety of listeners’ fancies.

Gems: “My Shot (Rise Up Remix),” “Wrote My Way Out,” “An Open Letter (Interlude),” “Satisfied,” “It’s Quiet Uptown,” “Say Yes to This” & “History Has Its Eyes on You”   

Various Artists • The Hamilton Mixtape • Atlantic • Release: 12.2.16 
Photo Credit: Atlantic

 

A full track-by-track review of the album can be found at The Musical Hype.

 

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