Going H.A.M.: A Track-By-Track Review Of The ‘Hamilton’ Soundtrack
Broadway’s new cult favorite Hamilton switches up the script on American history from a hip-hop POV. Chronicling the life of former United States treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton as told by “America now,” according to its star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. To ensure that the creators nailed the contemporary storytelling, the show’s composer and producer enlisted the help of The Roots’ Questlove.
After migrating from Off-Broadway to the Great White Way in August after a very successful run, Hamilton has hosted special attendees like Carmelo and La La Anthony as well as Madonna and President Barack Obama. For those who can’t quite make their way to the Big Apple for the two-hour production can also enjoy the sounds of Hamilton with the hefty two-part, 46-track soundtrack.
Here’s VIBE’s play-by-play of the Hamilton LP.—Monesha Woods
The album’s intro song details Hamilton’s upbringing and growing pains. The song’s booming instrumental, which features dramatic pauses and guitar strings, outlines the various struggles he faced including his mother’s sicknesses, his father’s departure from his life as well as his relentless desire to be a part of governmental affairs.
“Aaron Burr, Sir”
This track sees the introduction of Aaron Burr, one of Hamilton’s closest friends. The song features a subtle reggae vibe as the slow tempo and beatboxing enhances the pair’s discussion of their family lives and aspirations over liquor. The track also includes a late introduction of John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, and Marquis de Lafayette, who meet the duo at the bar. Though their meeting was unlikely, the five men would go on to play significant roles in the Revolutionary War, something the track valiantly sets up.
The third track is set to an instrumental reminiscent of the ’90s as Hamilton, Mulligan, Laurens, and de Lafayette chop it up about their relentless pursuit of success for the rights of all. Despite individual and societal adversities, they detail their plans for victory so that winning is one size fits all.
“The Story of Tonight”
This track features the four friends playing each other’s hype man in the name of freedom, something “they could never take away.” Hamilton, Mulligan, de Lafayette and Laurens take turns celebrating the special moment of now.
“The Schuyler Sisters”
“The Schuyler Sisters” introduces the trio of sisters, Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy, who quickly get the guys hot and bothered. The siblings outline what they;re looking for in a fellow as each of the men tell ‘em they have just what they’re looking for.
The fifth song is a blatant argument as Hamilton goes head-to-head with Samuel Seabury, a loyalist adverse to the American Revolution. As Hamilton digs into the man he says his dog “speaks more eloquently than,” listeners are able to take in the quiet yet contemplative instrumental.
“You’ll Be Back”
Let King George tell it. His Highness tells his colonists that they will indeed be back as they attempt to leave in pursuit of better things. Though most of the songs on the soundtrack are hip-hop in nature, this one is a sunny, playful take on the airing of grievances in what could be considered Beatles-style.
“Right Hand Man”
The soundtrack returns to its initial 1990s feel as Hamilton details George Washington’s need for a ride-or-die while his battle for New York territory runs into a plethora of issues. By song’s end, the historic pair meet in an effort to accomplish their different but similar goals.
“A Winter’s Ball”
Hamilton & Co. talk shop about bagging women, specifically one of the rich Schuyler sisters. Though these women were told to stay far away from the men, “A Winter’s Ball” spotlights the men’s fervent belief to get the ladies they desire.
“Helpless” finds Eliza Schuyler falling for Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s eventual wife does her best Beyoncé impression to detail how he stole her heart as Hamilton pledges to be faithful to his main chick, though he may not have the material wealth she is accustomed to.
Angelica Schuyler raps as fast as Busta Rhymes on the LP’s eleventh track, bringing flashbacks of her first conversation with Hamilton. Schuyler reveals how wishes she hadn’t “sized” him up because she has feelings for him, emotions that are now null and void after he married her sister, Eliza. “Satisfied” is a love song perfect for today’s FM rotation with its contemporary feel and lyrical content.
“The Story of Tonight” (Reprise)
Hamilton and his pals celebrate and tease him on his wedding day, pointing out that if Hamilton can tie the knot, they can, too. They also toast to his accomplishments: “No matter what she tells you, let’s have another round on us!”
“Wait For It”
Aaron Burr lifts his own spirits up on “Wait For It.” After watching his friend, Alexander Hamilton, succeed both professionally and personally, Burr assures himself through song that his time is coming as he sings, “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinner and the saint.”
Hamilton tries to boss up while keep his fighting spirit in tact under Washington’s command. The track is set to a quiet, methodical beat, which appears to stress the amount of planning that went into each move.
“Ten Duel Commandments”
Here, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments” influences the fifteenth track, that features Hamilton and the crew outlining the rules for battle over a strong percussive beat. Like Biggie, the men exude dominance for their life-or-death duel.
“Meet Me Inside”
“Meet Me Inside” is a very obvious confrontation between Washington and Hamilton as the latter expresses his frustrations over his superior’s ability to remain coolheaded and reserved. Known to be rash, Hamilton argues with Washington about a battle that just took place over a hard-hitting beat.
“That Would Be Enough”
Hamilton’s now-pregnant wife, Eliza, expresses how appreciative she is to have love, life and family in “That Would Be Enough.” The love song features a guitar and piano to support the sweet words Eliza sings to her husband.
“Guns and Ships”
“Guns and Ships” sounds like a nod to classic Eminem song as Hamilton, Lafayette, Burr and Washington discuss the war and the effort that goes into fighting one. It’s also the speediest record on Broadway with 19 words per second.
“History Has Its Eyes On You”
The nineteeth track marks a monumental moment for Hamilton as he finally lands his promotion to command by George Washington. To ring in the momentous occasion, Hamilton passionately sings, “History has its eyes on me.”
“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”
This song chronicles the last major battle of the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Yorktown. Earlier cut “My Shot” is infused in this track over a tough beat, where listeners can hear the perseverance of the soldiers in war.
“What Comes Next”
“What Comes Next” is a King George solo, where he ponders his next move after the last battle of the Revolutionary War has been fought.
Burr and Hamilton sing this fatherly ballad to their children, Theodasia and Philip. “Dear Theodasia” gives the dads a chance to reflect on their childhoods whilst contemplating how to be better with their own kids.
Hamilton and crew being back the reggae style for the last song of the first act of the musical. This song chronicles Hamilton’s life from war’s end to his promotion to Secretary of the Treasury over an instrumental that Bob Marley would probably be proud of.
“What’d I Miss?”
The first song of the second act features a hearty welcome for Thomas Jefferson, who had been occupied with his roles as governor of Virginia and ambassador to France. After a much hyped return, Jefferson asks over a 1960s swing-style beat what has taken place since his absence.
“Cabinet Battle #1″
The rap flair makes a comeback in “Cabinet Battle #1.” Modeled after a rap battle, the meeting of the minds includes Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison finds the squad trying to devise a plan to attack the financial crisis that is bogging the state down.
“Take A Break”
In this song, Eliza encourages her husband to cool out and spend quality time with the fam. The song is a ballad until their nine-year-old son, Philip, beatboxes to daddy dearest about his likes, dislikes and wants to his father’s delight.
“Say No to This”
“Say No to This” is the vivid description of Alexander Hamilton stepping out on his wife. In this song, Hamilton makes it clear that he doesn’t want to cheat on Eliza with Maria Reynolds but he can’t resist, all over a ’90s slow jam, Usher-style. This was considered the first major scandal in United States history.
“The Room Where It Happens”
“The Room Where It Happens” chronicles the Compromise of 1790 as told by Aaron Burr over a snazzy, jazzy beat almost to tease his VIP status: “No one else was in the room where it happened.”
Here, the Schuyler sisters take the backseat on politics. Hamilton, his wife and son alongside Burr also go in about the changing political dynamics over a 1970s-styled beat.
“Cabinet Battle #2″
The battle continues on as Hamilton and Jefferson disagree on how to go forward in the war between Britain and post-Revolutionary France. Set to a Harlem Shake-ready beat, the disagreement finds George Washington trying to moderate and diffuse tensions between the two.
“Washington On Your Side”
“Washington On Your Side” tries to get Jefferson charged up by having him look at Hamilton and his relationship with Washington through a hateful lens. The conversation begins with policy issues but quickly branches into personal grievances as the two sing, “It must be nice,” for Hamilton to have Washington’s support.
“One Last Time”
“One Last Time” is the tale of Alexander Hamilton writing George Washington’s address on politics before he resigned as president. Washington sings his heart out about national concerns over a sunny instrumental before he hangs it up “one last time.”
“I Know Him”
King George confusingly reflects on Washington’s resignation over an instrumental made for happy circumstances, which is the complete opposite of the content in “I Know Him.”
“The Adams Administration”
“The Adams Administration” details the chaos that erupted post-George Washington. In the song, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams are viciously arguing over a classical instrumental.
Burr, Jefferson, and Madison accuse Hamilton of financial embezzlement on “We Know,” prompted by Hamilton’s ex-mistress, Maria Reynolds. The story unfolds over a fast-paced instrumental, as Hamilton struggles to maintain his innocence.
The accusations force Hamilton into a public admission of infidelity with Maria Reynolds. As he reflects on his success, the “Hurricane” instrumental rages on, as a mirror to Hamilton’s life.
“The Reynolds Pamphlet”
“The Reynolds Pamphlet” soundtracks the aftermath from Hamilton’s proclamation of innocence. Still, the song showcases his vivid admission of a three-year affair with Maria Reynolds as welll as the re-entry of Hamilton’s sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler, who trekked from London to support her sister Eliza.
“Burn” is a contemplative ballad sung by Eliza Hamilton as she reacts to her husband’s cheating. The sentimental song features Mrs. Hamilton expressing her pain and heartache following the publication of The Reynolds Pamphlet. “By clearing your name, you’ve ruined our love,” she sings.
“Blow Us All Away”
Philip Hamilton is a grown man now and rash like his father. To prove it, he duels with a man, George Eacker, who said some less than positive things about his father. Philip and the man, scheduled to battle in New Jersey, argue over a lighthearted beat as they prepare to throw ‘bows.
“Stay Alive (Reprise)”
Philip is talking to his dad in the reprise of “Stay Alive.” The sentimental track features the younger Hamilton contemplating his injury over a melancholy instrumental.
“It’s Quiet Uptown”
On a hushed instrumental, both Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are grieving their son’s death. They reflect on everything that has happened over the course of their lives together as Alexander tries his best to apologize to his wife. “If I could trade his life for mine, that would be enough,” Alexander Hamilton said.
“The Election of 1800″
This song discusses the bitter 1800 election that featured Burr vs. Jefferson on the Federalist ballot. Though the election was contentious, the happy-go-lucky beat offers a sharp contrast to their verbal sparring.
“Your Obedient Servant”
“Your Obedient Servant” is an almost facetious depiction of Burr and Hamilton’s relationship from Burr’s POV. The serious back and forth banter is set to an almost circus-like instrumental.
“Best of Wives and Best of Women”
“Best of Wives and Best of Women” is set to the same melancholy instrumental as “It’s Quiet Uptown.” The song is simply a conversation between Hamilton and wife Eliza, while showing their improved relationship.
“The World Was Wide Enough”
In “The World Was Wide Enough,” Burr and Hamilton battle as planned. It is in this scene that Burr dramatically kills Hamilton after he details how it is that his former friend became his foe while the percussion thumps.
“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”
The last song of the play is “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” Eliza Hamilton steers the song as she reflects on her life, her marriage to Hamilton and their legacy, which includes the opening of New York City’s first private orphanage. The song is set to a reflective yet dramatic instrumental as Hamilton’s friends and family close the play with the posing of a simple yet deep question, “Who tells your story?”