On Friday, the Hamilton Mixtape dropped. Andrea listened to it almost immediately, emailed Gabs to say “excellent” and soon insisted on getting online to discuss this historic event. The chat transcript is available for your edification and for the good of future generations below. It has been edited for length.
INTRO: “the best three song run”
What were your expectations for this?
I’d already heard the songs that were released early, and otherwise had vaguely seen the tracklist once
so in the end my expectations were “Oh heck, that’s happening? it dropped? SWEET SURPRISE”
I also sort of forgot it existed.
But unlike you, I didn’t listen to any of the stuff. I guess I wanted to not get the preview? No explanation there, really.
I expected it to be basically covers and when I started listening I was like, “Oh hey! Not all covers.” Which is an aspect of it I really like
Listening to “Congratulations” again and you’re right, it’s really one of the better tracks
I love it a lot
do you want to go off on it now or do you want to go through from the beginning?
Oh, might as well talk about it now
First, Angelica and Eliza should just get their own freaking musicals, so there’s that
How much should Congratulations have been kept in, on a scale from “Eh” to “LIN-MANUEL YOU FOOL”?
It should have been kept in, “Come on, dude, these ladies are the best part of the whole thing”
because every time I listen to the soundtrack and get toward the end, I’m always like, “Fuck, Eliza is so AWESOME”
Right? I have such love and respect for her!
To get off-mixtape and on-book, that line “do you want to see what i’m proudest of? ….this ORPHANAGE”
‘Oh, you know, I spent 50 years fighting against slavery and raising hundreds of children’
And she basically single handedly held onto his legacy, so he owes her all the props
Straight from Eliza’s very existence to Chernow’s magic typewriter
I assume he writes on a typewriter, since he’s writing historical books
That’s how all historians work
I’m using morse code
I’m glad to have this confirmed
okay, so when I heard Congratulations, my main thought was “YESSS ANGELICA. DRAG HIM. “
in case you were wondering
He effing deserves that shit, so yes
The dissing at the beginning is perfect
And there’s something about the tone and even like the tempo that sets it apart from a lot of the songs before it
I just remembered it comes directly after Say Yes to This can we TALK about Say YES to THIS
I love Jill Scott anyway, so I was excited about that one
I loved the flipped perspective
it floored me when I realized what was happening
There are a couple things about the musical I could criticize and one of them is that the affair doesn’t give Maria Reynolds her due
And I wish it did because the actress who plays her has the greatest voice
Jasmine Cephas Jones is AMAZING
But, damn, yeah, when I hear “Say No to This” I’m always like “YESSSS”
And I was very happy Jill Scott produced the same feeling in me
I’d just like to say I’d like to propose “Say Yes to This” “Congratulates” and “Burn” as the best three song run on the mixtape
COVERS: “I wanted nothing but spins”
Burn was almost my favorite cover, until I hit John Legend
Might have to say that the second half is doing more for me than the first
all covers have the risk of “okay but why not go listen to the original”
but Andra Day and John Legend change the style enough or just have such a presence in their voices that I love ’em.
there was one cover
Well, let me ask you: what did you think of the covers overall?
I was about to say, “I can tell you the worst cover”
Because, come on, Jimmy Fallon
He did not nail that
CONFESSION: I have not been able to listen to that whole track
part of it is just being DONE with Fallon
part of it is that idiotic intro, like, seriously
But if this is supposed to be a joke performance, then UGH get OUT
if it’s not, and it’s just bad, then what the hell?
If I want a joke performance, I’ll hire Jack Black, thank you very much
If I want a joke performance, I’ll go look for the pod stashed in my apartment containing my real body because I’ve become someone I’m not
As far as the other covers I thought they were decent but none of them were like “WOW” for me
I laughed out loud when I saw Regina Spektor and Ben Folds on the list, because of course they would cover that song
Yeah, most obvious and only song they could, really
it was nice? But I actually liked the version by Chance the Rapper better
I agree. I would’ve preferred to hear them put a spin on it
Because once I heard all the other spins, then I wanted nothing but spins
yeah, when I hear a cover, I want the artist to do something with it, usually
I think straight tribute toe-the-line cover is nice often, but… why would i listen to it
for example: Usher
it was a really nice song! He’s a great singer! No arguments!
I could be listening to LESLIE ODOM JR
I think “My Shot” and “Wrote My Way Out” work because they do put new lyrics and a stamp on it
those are more like remixes
Right. When I saw the titles I was expecting covers and was pleasantly surprised they weren’t
John Trumbull/My Shot/Wrote My Way Out was going to be my contender for best 3 song run, except John Trumbull is barely a song
Maybe best dude three song run
But I really enjoyed My Shot, and the verses in Wrote My Way Out touched my heart and slayed me a little
like bookish bullied puerto rican kid? gosh, I don’t know anyone who could possibly relate
that’s your life!
arguably! arguably not! but enough resonance for me to love it
I liked that song a lot in general because the story of people striving to get out of the bad situation they were born into, or stumbled into, is something that I gravitate toward a LOT a lot
not only striving but successful
I always really appreciate people writing and reading their way out of situations
Like, use your brains to get better! What a great message
in lin’s verse he has a line about a beacon
the idea that this combo of ambition and talent and writing can help you claw your way to a better place, and that maybe you can leave those words behind to help others find the way too
oh my heart
DEMOS: “More Angelica For a Better World”
So, of Congratulations, An Open Letter, and Cabinet Battle #3, if you could choose one to get put back in the musical…
An Open Letter = A+
What I really like about Cabinet Battle #3 was it really addressed the fact that a lot of the characters are slaveholders
and in addition to wanting more ladies in the musical, I always wished they addressed that some of the characters are slaveholders more
like, Washington is a great character, but in CB#3 when he turns Hamilton down and you KNOW it’s because he has slaves?
But then do you have to make the musical like an hour longer to really get that issue teased out in full
I’d say probably Congratulations
followed by An Open Letter
because I’m very torn about CB#3
I would agree!
because More Angelica For a Better World
and honestly, any song that gives me more of Alexander’s unfettered mouth is OK by me, and An Open Letter is UNFETTERED
“Sit down, John, you fat mother fucker” is one of my favorite lines of the whole musical
but all the build-up TO that line makes it feel so much better
and the sheer wordplay, the flow in that song makes my heart SO DAMN HAPPY
you aspire to my level, you inspire to malevolence
that was my fave part of CB#3, the reference to Jefferson hemming and hawing
I love the founders (and adjacent ladies) just DRAGGING each other
slam him, alex
it’s really great to see characters that are so normally revered just being straight up dicks
I am pro Founding Fathers being turned into real humans
…it does bother me to think too hard about the fact that it’s really only here that they’re popularly made human again, when POC are playing them
I think it makes sense and is utterly unsurprising that a POC creator would be the one to do it
and of course it’s awesome to have a cast like this, it does a lot of things that I love
but that overanalyzing part of my brain went “yeah sure now we see their flaws, it’s fine to bring ’em down to the ground if they’re not white anymore”
Right, like the white versions of them still get to be the dudes on the pedestals
I can definitely see that. But who gave an eff about Alexander Hamilton before this musical (besides me, obvs)
I think a lot of people knew that he was America’s Hottest Revolutionary
He was super fine
I’m not surprised he was popular with the ladies
I loved how after the musical got popular suddenly all these historical primary sources were going around, like, TUMBLR to prove that E V E R Y O N E wrote about how beautiful A. Ham was
“he had the most striking eyes!”
Also, just look at a 10 dollar bill
man was a babe
Valley Forge: Opinions?
So much of it got repurposed into the musical itself
which made me go, “that was cut for a reason”
the delivery on the demo was so different!
in the final version, those “outrun, outlast” lines are more pumped up
a: it plays better on stage
b: it focuses on the heat of the battle, getting amped up to fight and survive
the demo version also works really well for me as a song.
instead of pumped up, you get a focus on the desperation and weariness as soldiers were freezing and dying, the way everything looked so hopeless and then it turned around and it WASN’T
basically this song makes me patriotic about the founding of our country and I’m very confused about that
I read 1776 around the same time I started listening to Hamilton and it’s a good reminder that the beginning of that war was awful, and Washington was getting slapped around and basically hanging on by the skin of his teeth
It’s also a good reminder that everyone was basically freezing to death and miserable
so in terms of capturing the spirit of real history? Yes.
also, it reminded me that they called George Washington his Excellency which is always amusing to me
did you have to watch a documentary in high school about Washington called “The Man Who Wouldn’t Be King”?
the point of it was that Washington could have become king if he had wanted to
At the end it talks about how a bunch of veterans of the war were going to start some shit because they weren’t getting paid and Washington went to appeal to them personally
and he had to put on his glasses to read his statement and it made everyone realize he was human too (that he had to put glasses on) and everyone was all crying and decided to do him a solid
and my friends and I thought that was both hilarious and nuts. Like, he had sort of developed godhood even when he was still alive
COVERS AGAIN: “Another shrug from me”
so I may get some hate for this
I’m prepared to hate you
I’m furious with Kelly Clarkson (not really)
I cannot beLIEVE that someone made me feel NOTHING during It’s Quiet Uptown
ooh, I was wondering if I was the only monster who didn’t love her version of it
I’ve had the original come on accidentally on shuffle and teared up a little so Clarkson can get OUT OF MY HOUSE
For that matter, I like Alicia Keys, but I found That Would Be Enough not that interesting
I am 100% sure I’ve listened to it several times and have 0 memory of it
which is partially why I think the Say Yes to This, Congratulations, Burn run is so appealing to me
There’s a chunk of ballads and you’re like EH
and then it turns itself around real fast
I feel like Immigrants was this buoy in the middle trying to support that stretch
and I mean it’s GREAT.
I think a lot of people are going to be saying “omg Snow tha Product is my new fave”
Thoughts on Washingtons By Your Side?
I like that it’s kind of like its own song that happens to use some of the same notes from the original
just takes “washington(s)” and runs with it
That’s one of things that impressed me about some of the tracks on this album
it shows that really creative and improvisational side
how you can use something as inspiration but make something completely different
which is why some of the covers feel like a let down
OUTRO: “some more good shit from him”
I’m excited that LMM is so young and talented
because we’re going to get some more good shit from him
Do you think you’re likely to listen to this as much as Hamilton?
and which song are you likely to listen to the most?
as it turns out Hamilton the musical is really long, so I don’t listen to all of it that often
I have a “up-tempo put away your laundry” Hamilton playlist that I do listen to a lot, so likely I will just add some songs from this
it is soooo long
but I totally listen to it front to back
To answer your other question about Top Tracks
That’s different from what stands out as my favorites. I’ll want to step back and LISTEN* to An Open Letter and Congratulations
*feebly sing along
while History Has Its Eyes on you and Say Yes to This feel supremely listenable, like, throw those on an unrelated playlist and listen the heck out of ’em
BUT there are a few on here that are KILLER gym tracks
in case you were wondering: my shot/wrote my way out/immigrants
I foresee I lot of listening to the three consecutive lady songs
and Jill Scott in particular like a thousand times
yep, conclusion: Jill Scott is great
That is my life’s conclusion
oh no I’m listening to Congratulations again