‘Hamilton,’ the Best Broadway Musical in Years, Boasts an Equally Thrilling Cast Recording: Album Review
2015’s best rap album isn’t by Drake, Kendrick Lamar or Dr. Dre -- it’s the cast recording of Hamilton, a vital companion to the most creative, most talked-about musical to hit Broadway this millennium (read Billboard's cover story on the show here). True, an audio recording (executive-produced by The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter) can’t reproduce the subversive visual impact of seeing star/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (recently awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”) and a predominantly black and brown cast take on America’s founding fathers and mothers -- on the Great White Way, of all places. But digesting every nuance in these mostly rapped renditions of the infamously verbose title character’s oratorial jousts is almost impossible without a rewind button; every listen finds a new sanguine historical detail, slick interpolation of a hip-hop classic or dizzying rhyme pattern delivered with Eminem-level intricacy, particularly on the epic “Cabinet Battles” between the lead and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton’s stage production should be required viewing for every American citizen, but this exhilarating listen is a much more practical, and every bit as enjoyable, stand-in.