Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton has become a sensation the way few cultural works ever do. The show has shattered the boundaries between hip-hop and Broadway and recast the American Founding Fathers to look more like America. The cast has been to the White House, performed at the Grammys, and dominate this year’s Tony nominations. But they’re not done yet. A Hamilton mixtape was announced in October, and in his new Rolling Stone cover story , Miranda details the project, which will feature Sia, Chance the Rapper, Usher, Ben Folds, Busta Rhymes, and other musicians covering the musical’s songs and creating new tunes inspired by it.
“What we’re trying to do is basically get people at their most inspired, because, again, the ethos of the show was, I’m inspired by this story that has to be a hip-hop story, and I’m inspired to invoke the rap gods and R&B gods that I loved,” Miranda told Rolling Stone’s Mark Binelli. “So now it’s about turning to those rap gods and heroes and saying, ‘What in the show inspires you? Go make something.’ And we’re not being very doctrinaire about it. Right now, and this could change because we’re still making tracks, but it’s about a 50-50 mix of covers and inspired-bys. So for every song where it’s an artist covering the song verbatim, as it appears in the show, 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. There’s a version of ‘Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story’ that’s not about Eliza, it’s about who lives, who dies and who tells your story.”
Miranda also revealed his reactions to the various iconic rappers who have shown up to Hamilton. Nas, for instance, is now in possession of Miranda’s original copy of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton.
“Busta was the first and the greatest, because he sat in the front row. That was about as nervous as I’ve been,” Miranda said, echoing statements he made to EW in December. “For me, it’s been exciting to meet a lot of lyrical giants. Andre 3000, when he came, I was very conscious of him. Eminem was another one of those. I was sick when Jay Z and Beyoncé came, so I missed that particular pleasure of performing for them. When Nas came, I was a wreck. I actually gave him my copy of the Chernow book that I took on vacation! It was very impulsive. It’s always interesting when your heroes react in a way that’s in keeping with what you think of them. Nas’ reaction to the show was ‘I want to read more about this era,’ because Nas is our hip-hop scholar and intellectual. So I just gave him the book!”