Hip-hop has always spawned collaboration. When people dig what you’re doing, they want to be a part of it, and the vocal-centric, hip-hop art form lends itself well to such partnership. Hamilton, the universally lauded musical rendered in hip-hop, has inspired people in and beyond hip-hop realms. To accommodate that community, the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is teaming up with Questlove to create The Hamilton Mixtape.
“I really wanted the hip-hop community to embrace Hamilton because it’s such a love letter to them,” Miranda told Vanity Fair. “To me, Hamilton was a hip-hop artist. He used his words to get everywhere. He also ruined his life using those verbal abilities. I thought of this as a concept album like Jesus Christ Superstar; that was an album before it was staged as a show. I wanted to write really dense, fun lyrics like my favorite hip-hop artists did.”
Questlove has been one of Miranda’s favorite artists since The Roots played his college’s “Spring Fling.” Asked whether he had always wanted the hip-hop maven to be involved, Miranda said, “That was the dream.” Now, Questlove, who executive-produced the musical’s Grammy-winning cast album, is on-board for the mixtape, bringing even more legitimacy to the project.
So far, Questlove says, the mixtape’s lineup includes Chance the Rapper, Common, Ben Folds, Busta Rhymes, Regina Spektor, Queen Latifah, and others. “People are coming out of the woodwork, knocking on the door,” he says. “Half the songs are cover versions of songs in the show, and the others are interpolations—we’ll take some of this, some of that, and make something new out of it.”
Miranda won’t be a part of the album because “the goal is to keep this inspired by the original,” but that shouldn’t diminish its impact. “Hamilton is the balance that hip-hop needed,” said Questlove. “It’s changing the conversation. The amount of people in my apartment building treating me different now … This is a key moment for Broadway and for music.”
HT: Vanity Fair
IMAGE: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/Creative Commons