Musical mixtape serves as social commentary

The Hamilton Mixtape premiered on Friday Dec. 2 to great anticipation and fanfare. The album consists of songs from the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton,” as written by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, but sung by our favorite musical artists. Miranda began the mixtape that eventually led to the creation of his famous musical in 2009. The album features 22 songs from the original score, featuring artists including Usher, Sia, Alicia Keys, Jimmy Fallon, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper, Andra Day, John Legend, Ashanti, The Roots and many more. Miranda has suggested that this is only Volume I, with a second volume expected to release shortly afterward.

The album’s songs are similar in style to the original score, which drew a widely positive reception from both critics and audiences for its unprecedented and unique portrayal of a common historical narrative. The experience of The Hamilton Mixtape does not just come with the music itself, however; with it also comes its place in the current political and social atmosphere of the country.

While most of the album is composed of covers, there are also a few uncut versions of songs that are not featured in the musical. This includes “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” which is performed by a diverse group of artists, comprising of Somali-Canadian rapper K’NAAN, Mexican-American singer Snow Tha Product, British-Pakistani actor and rapper Riz Ahmed and Puerto Rican rapper Residente. This song deviates from the rest by rooting itself in the present, referencing the current status of immigrants in the United States.

“It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, ‘immigrant’ has somehow become a bad word,” the song says.

The song also tackles issues of border security, discussing the contributions immigrants have made to this country: “We’re America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed.”

The foundation of “Hamilton” itself lies in its ability to redefine the role of immigrants and minorities in the whitewashed landscape of American history. The story of Alexander Hamilton is told using a fusion of various musical styles popularized by minority groups, including R&B, rap and other combinations of hip-hop with ballads and show tunes.

The cast is also made up of many diverse performers. With members of the LGBTQ+ community, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians—in combination with the musical’s current role in pop culture—reassurance is provided to marginalized people living in fear of the current issues surrounding society. This includes everything from police brutality to hate crimes.

In terms of the lyrical content, Miranda’s creative genius shines through with the inclusion of his early demo songs, “Wait For It,” featuring Usher, and the new take on “Satisfied” with Queen Latifah, Sia and Miranda himself.

Miranda’s combination of modern American musical sound with a retelling of the classic white dominated story of this country’s origins sends an important message about the changes that have since transformed the face of this country. The new face of America is a diverse melting pot of brown, black and white faces that embody the true American values of freedom and liberty.

The Hamilton Mixtape serves to show that our history and our present don’t have to be mutually exclusive; rather, the two serve as two pieces of a puzzle that complete each other and paint a bigger, more important picture. The Hamilton Mixtape embraces change and addresses the diverse America, establishing its connection with the past and its continued presence in the future.