Before there was the smash hit musical Hamilton, there was The Hamilton Mixtape. Following the Broadway opening of his first Tony Award-winning musical In The HeightsLin-Manuel Miranda was invited to perform at the White House Evening of Poetry in front of President Obama. Instead of performing work from his show, he performed an opening number from his next project which was then called 'The Hamilton Mixtape'. His performance went on to become part of the opening number of Hamilton, following a five year development period backed by producer Jeffrey Seller who convinced Miranda to shorten the title to just Hamilton. The rest is history.
Following the release of the Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Album in 2015, Miranda announced that he was also working on 'The Hamilton Mixtape', a 50-50 mix of covers and inspired-by numbers that would be released on a new recording, bringing the music to life with musicians and performers from across the Rap, Hip Hop, RnB and Pop worlds. A reverse process to how many musicals have been created, 'The Hamilton Mixtape' would tap into the global brand that has inspired a whole movement and regenerated interest in musical theatre.
At the beginning of November 2016 the official tracklist for The Hamilton Mixtape was released, featuring artists such as The Roots, Busta Rhymes, Usher, Sia, Queen Latifah, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Jimmy Fallon, Ashanti, John Legend and Chance the Rapper. Two tracks from the album were released with pre-orders, including "My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix]" by The Roots and "It’s Quiet Uptown" by Kelly Clarkson.
Following the US Election on Tuesday 8 November, Miranda released a further two tracks globally including "Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah)" by Sia and "Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)" by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC and Residente. <p>
Eagle eyed Hamilton fans will recognise that many of the show's top numbers are not featured on the new album, and Miranda also announced this week that a Hamilton Mixtape Part 2 would also be happening over the next year.
The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton has gone on to reach multi-platinum status in the USA, going double platinum in October 2016 and selling 2 million units in America alone. It won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
The full Hamilton mixtape was released on Friday 2 December and has already gone on to be one of the year's biggest preordered albums on both iTunes and Amazon, extending the popularity of both the musical, the score and Miranda himself throughout the world. Miranda, who is currently in London working filming for the upcoming remake of 'Mary Poppins' in which he stars alongside Emily Blunt, also wrote original songs for the latest Walt Disney animated musical 'Moana', which is also released in the UK today, December 2.
The Hamilton Mixtape further proves the crossover appeal of modern musical theatre, with some of the world's biggest artists covering the music of Broadway. As we already discussed, the nature of Broadway music dominating the Billboard Top 100 is a landmark achievement, furthering the development of popular music in America and beyond. Concept albums are familiar to fans of British musical theatre and were used extensively by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1970s. Jesus Christ Superstar succeeded on stage because of the popularity of the concept album in both the UK and USA, giving audiences the opportunity to connect with the music ahead of seeing the work on stage.
In a musical as rich as Hamilton, I would firmly recommend potential audiences connecting with the material before seeing the show. Rather than ruining the element of surprise, knowing the melodies, raps and narrative will only enhance the enjoyment of the overall performance experience. With so much to focus on, getting ahead of the game with the lyrics will certain lead to a more enjoyable experience. I sat mouth agape at the Richard Rodgers Theatre earlier this year, not only at the show itself but at the commitment from the audience, many of whom were following the lyrics along with their 'Hamiltomes', and one woman who faultlessly rapped along with the entire show from the front row.
Thanks to the Mixtape, Hamilton has firmly crossed over into the popular music realm, and if this brings more people into the fold of musical theatre, it ought to be fully commended. Let's just see if those new fans can snag a ticket...
Hamilton opens in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre in November 2017, with tickets on sale in January 2017.