So for a month now I have been listening to the Hamilton Mixtape…and I still have a few questions mainly is it playing chess or checkers?

I’m a child of the 80/90s and therefore all too awear of mixtapes and how much they can mean (recording off the radio was my most brag worthy skill back in the day). For me mixtapes only came in a handful of flavors. They could be a way to recreate an incredible moment (like a first kiss). They can be made for some special event (think prom or road trip). They can tell someone that you like them, love them, or that it’s time to break up. Thus after listening the Hamilton Mixtape I began asking myself what purpose does this collection of songs have? What is the Mixtape saying?

Checkers

Perhaps the most obvious thing the Mixtape was saying is “Yay Hamlet!” But in all seriousness Hamilton (the Musical) has exploded, pretty much world wide, and as so few people have had the opportunity to share in the spectale perhaps Lin was just sharing his original idea with us. Maybe this Mixtape is yet another way to feel conected to the Musical. This however seems overly simplified because we already had the cast album.

My next thought was that Lin just wanted to tell us all that he likes us. However, when I gave “I like you” mixtapes out what I was usually doing, in reality, was asking “Do you like me?” It seems unlikely that with all of his adoring fans Mr. Miranda would be asking that particular question.

So that left breaking up. Could Lin possibly be breaking up with us? There were signs. Quite a few of the songs were sad in nature and some even seem perfect for a breakup mixtape (I’m looking at you You’ll Be Back and Burn). 

Then it dawned on me. Hamilton: An American Musical is is about America then told by Americans today. What beautiful allegory would it be if Hamilton: The Mixtape which talks about America then was really about America today. *Mind figuratively blown* I started listening differently to the songs. Could this be real? Is Mr. Miranda asking us to not only look back to avoid past mistakes, but also darring us to have an eye to the future? These familiar songs changed in an instant. 

Chess

Somewhere between the wake up call in No John Trumbull (things are not what they seem), and the sad but hopeful wish (that the world can be as good as I hope it can) I hear in the Dear Theodosia reprise he touched on it all. Mr. Miranda has compiled a collection of songs that asks us to recognize the stain on our country’s history that is slavery, the disservice that has been done to hard working immigrants, and the fact that different isn’t always seen as good. However, when I really listen to the words on this Mixtape I hear a promise that no matter how bad things get each of us has the tools to find our way out so long as we do not give up. If I may go a step further it also suggests that we all get our moment, and while you wait for it don’t be idle, be patient…and ready.

Maybe I’m reaching and all Lin and the amazing artists who lent their voices to carry these messages wanted to do was entertain us. If that’s the case, mission accomplished. However if the idea was to challenge today’s me-centric mentality to look ahead at what seeds we are planting then checkmate sir.

I can only hope that he is right “The harder the conflict the more glourous the triumph”.

Stay relentless!

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