Back in May 2009, a year after his first hit show In the Heights won the Tony for Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda was invited to perform at the White House Evening of Poetry. Lin got on-stage and started a rap from a project he was working on called The Hamilton Mixtape. No one knew the rap he performed there would end up becoming the opening number to his Broadway juggernaut Hamilton. Producer Jeffrey Seller was with Miranda through the five-year development of the so-called mixtape that turned into a full-fledged musical, and convinced Miranda to shorten the name to just Hamilton.
Then, in October, Miranda officially announced that in addition to the already-released cast recording, they would begin work on the original concept of The Hamilton Mixtape. He told Rolling Stone in June that the mix is “about a 50-50 mix of covers and inspired-bys” but said the ratio could change.
So the show is done.
Cast album is out.
Now we begin planning The Hamilton Mixtape.
Remixes & Covers & Inspired bys.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) October 1, 2015
With the growing interest in the whole Hamilton franchise including a PBS Documentary, a filmed version, new iterations opening in Chicago, Los Angeles, and London, fans have been clamoring for details about the mixtape. Here’s everything we know so far about the the project due this fall.
The Release Date
In his Periscope debut on June 21, Miranda revealed that we could expect the mixtape some time in November.
Questlove and Black Thought: Questlove has been attached to the project since its inception, after executive producing the Grammy-winning cast album. “We’re in the final stages,” Quest told Billboard in an interview. “We were brought in to produce the cast album and now the massive success of that album is leading to the original idea. Hamilton started out as an idea for a mixtape and nothing else. Then they were like, ‘Let’s do this play first and see what happens.’ So this is the “see what happens” part.”
Mike Elizondo and Rigo “Riggs” Morales: On August 8, Lin tweeted out a picture of him and the two producers, writing, “Spent the morning w the brilliant Mike Elizondo & @RiggdUp working on tracks for the Hamilton Mixtape. #Latinos”. Elizondo has produced hits for the likes of Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Carrie Underwood, and Alanis Morissette, as well as working on Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine albums. Morales serves as the vp of A&R and Artist Development at Atlantic records, the label producing the mixtape, and famously signed 50 Cent as a Shady Records A&R in 2002.
Busta Rhymes: At a June 16 press conference where he announced he would be leaving the show in July, Miranda told reporters, “So there will be a cover of ‘My Shot.’ The chorus is our chorus, but the verses are incredible rappers doing what they do and writing incredible verses that I didn’t write.”
At least one of those rappers is Busta Rhymes. During his Periscope session, Miranda played about 10 seconds of “My Shot” with what sounded like Busta rapping the signature chorus” “I’m not throwing away my shot/ Yo, I’m just like my country/ I’m young scrappy and hungry.”
Jimmy Fallon: In a Hamilton promo youtube clip actualized on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in April, Jonathan Groff — who played King George when the show moved to Broadway — announced that the late-night host would be singing the character’s hilarious, Bublé-esque track “You’ll Be Back.” Miranda later tweeted the announcement.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) April 8, 2016
This would probably explain the picture Mirana shared of him, Fallon, Busta Rhymes and Questlove in the studio in January.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 19, 2016
Regina Spektor and Ben Folds: In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, singer-songwriter Ben Folds talked about his involvement with the mixtape, including a track with Regina Spektor. “It was Regina’s thing, and I came in and sang some. I think we probably spent a total of two hours doing some vocal stuff, and the next four hours, drinking and talking s–t. [laughs] But she’s so good, and the track is f—ing great. I’m going to see the show this Sunday, actually.”
Others: Billboard confirmed back in March that the mixtape will also feature heavy-hitters Queen Latifah, Common, Usher, Sia and Chance the Rapper but there is still no information about what covers, remixes or originals these artists will deliver. On July 9, Miranda also revealed that Alicia Keys contributed to the project.
“I just heard ?@aliciakeys’ contribution to the Hamilton Mixtape and I am flying through space somewhere. (I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO HEAR IT)”
I just heard @aliciakeys‘ contribution to the Hamilton Mixtape and I am flying through space somewhere.
(I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO HEAR IT)
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 9, 2016
Someone (not named Beyoncé) will cover the show-stopper “Satisfied”
At a June 16 press conference, Miranda told reporters, “There’s a cover of ‘Satisfied’ that is going to blow your f—ing minds — you can put asterisks through that!” As for the potential cover artist, all the Tony winner could say was her “name does not rhyme with Shmayoncé.”
A rap battle about slavery
Hamilton features “Cabinet Battles,” a track in which founding fathers Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and Washington argue about domestic financial plans. Miranda mentioned during a talk at the New Yorker Festival that the project would feature a rap battle on slavery, which they cut in workshops. “It was enormously cathartic to write because you write about these men who wrote great things but also had this other legacy lived within the system that was horrible and abusive,” he said. “It just brought the show to a screeching halt.”
When Hamilton: The Revolution, the book written by Miranda and Jeremy McCarter detailing the show’s development, was released in April, the lyrics of the third rap battle were revealed. Hamilton raps, “This is the stain on our soul/ and democracy/ A land of the free? No, it’s not, it’s hypocrisy/ To subjugate, dehumanize a race, call ’em property/ And say that we are powerless to stop it, can you not foresee?”
“Right Hand Man”
In his Rolling Stone interview, Miranda mentioned a track inspired by “Right Hand Man,” in which Hamilton gains the confidence of George Washington. “There’s a song where you take the hook of ‘Right Hand Man,’ but it’s two rappers invoking the theme of ‘Right Hand Man’ and doing what they want with it.”
“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”
In the same interview, he also mentions a version of the show’s finale “that’s not about Eliza, it’s about who lives, who dies and who tells your story.”
The Official Tracklist
On Thursday (Nov. 3), Lin-Manuel Miranda pulled back the curtain on the official Hamilton Mixtape tracklist, which featured a jaw-dropping list of guests including Nas Chance The Rapper, Sia, Regina Spektor, Alicia Keys and more.
He also tweeted, “Been working on a mixtape for years. It’s finished.”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 3, 2016
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 3, 2016
1. No John Trumbull (Intro) – The Roots
2. My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix] – The Roots
3. Wrote My Way Out – Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
4. Wait For It – Usher
5. An Open Letter (feat. Shockwave) [Interlude] – Watsky
6. Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia
7. Dear Theodosia (feat. Ben Folds) – Regina Spektor
8. Valley Forge (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
9. It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson
10. That Would Be Enough – Alicia Keys
11. Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) – K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente
12. You’ll Be Back – Jimmy Fallon & The Roots
13. Helpless (feat. Ja Rule) – Ashanti
14. Take A Break (Interlude) – !llmind
15. Say Yes To This – Jill Scott
16. Congratulations – Dessa
17. Burn – Andra Day
18. Stay Alive (Interlude) – J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot
19. Slavery Battle (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
20. Washingtons By Your Side – Wiz Khalifa
21. History Has Its Eyes On You – John Legend
22. Who Tells Your Story (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson) – The Roots
23. Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance The Rapper & Francis and The Lights
Miranda also announced that the project would be available for pre-order on Friday, Nov 4.
Although he had originally said he wouldn’t be on the mixtape, he announced at a press conference that the project would incorporate an unused demo of his. “I have a song called ‘Valley Forge’ that I cut that we actually performed in the Lincoln Center concert,” he said. “I sort of took the best lines from it and put it in ‘Stay Alive,’ but the ‘Valley Forge’ demo will be on the recording.”
Miranda also mentioned “six or seven” other cut demos that will act as interludes between the covers. “‘Congratulations’ was a song that Angelica had. I think we’re putting that on the Mixtape.”
As more details about the project spill out, here is our dream track list for The Hamilton Mixtape.
Ben Folds and Regina Spektor, “Helpless”: Folds collaborated with Regina Spektor on one of his most popular songs “You Don’t Know Me” so how cute would Eliza and Alexander’s first meeting be as a duet accompanied by Folds’ bouncy piano?
Queen Latifah, “Alexander Hamilton”: The opening number in the show has multiple rap solos and is backed by the chorus but Queen Latifah has both the rapping and singing chops to kick off this mixtape with a bang.
Sia, “Burn”: Eliza Hamilton’s heartbreak song would translate beautifully with Sia’s raspy alto. The runs could easily be replaced with the singer’s glorious voice cracks.
Usher, “Wait for It”: Aaron Burr’s soliloquy about persistence and patience in the face of unrelenting competition from his frenemy Hamilton would fall right into the R&B singer’s vocal sweet spot.
Chance the Rapper & Common, “Right Hand Man”: If this song is to inspire a completely new take like Miranda says, then these are the artists to do it. Chance is disrupting the rap game (He is Billboard’s cover star for this week’s New Pioneers issue after all) which is exactly what Hamilton is doing for Broadway.