Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Creates a Playlist of Protest Music for Our Troubled Times

Pho­to by Steve Jurvet­son, via Flickr Com­mons

In 1992 Ice‑T’s met­al band Body Count mas­tered the art of shock pol­i­tics when the song “Cop Killer” put them “at the cen­tre of a nation­al out­rage.” But their polit­i­cal feroc­i­ty may have seemed much dimin­ished when, in 2015, they released a tongue-in-cheek update of Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies’ “Insti­tu­tion­al­ized” in which Ice‑T rails against his wife, bad tech sup­port, and an inter­rupt­ed ham sand­wich while on the set of Law & Order.

The past year’s events have jolt­ed Body Count back into fight­ing form. Their recent release “No Lives Mat­ter” com­bines top­i­cal social cri­tique with “Cop Killer”-style con­fronta­tion in a pum­mel­ing track rem­i­nis­cent of anoth­er 90s rap-met­al activist stal­wart. Ice‑T may have moved on from L.A. gang life to com­fort­able TV star­dom, but few would deny him his street cred or his con­tin­ued abil­i­ty to size up the sit­u­a­tion of the Amer­i­can under­class.

Anoth­er rap­per-slash-actor (slash-poet-slash-com­pos­er) has entered the world of protest music from a decid­ed­ly dif­fer­ent sphere. Now inter­na­tion­al­ly famous for his musi­cal Hamil­ton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work doesn’t speak truth to pow­er as much as it makes pow­er speak its truth. Hamil­ton, writes Mary Grace Garis at Bus­tle, “is a sear­ing reminder that Amer­i­ca is very much found­ed by immi­grants fac­ing per­se­cu­tion, and that our free­dom, like­wise, was fought for by immi­grants.”

Their musi­cal venues and polit­i­cal visions may span a wide Venn dia­gram, but like Body Count’s lat­est, Hamil­ton draws on both con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal rhetoric and music from the hey­day of “con­scious” hip-hop and alter­na­tive. Miran­da has wide­ly shared his influ­ences in his HAMthol­o­gy Playlist, and he remade sev­er­al of the show’s songs with some of his idols on The Hamil­ton Mix­tape. Con­tin­u­ing his cura­to­r­i­al role, and hav­ing “learned how to use the Spo­ti­fy thingy on my day off,” Miran­da now brings his fans the playlist above, which he calls “Rise Up Eyes Up Wise Up.”

The new mix begins with The Hamil­ton Mix­tape’s “Immi­grants (We Get the Job Done)” and moves on to a thor­ough­ly eclec­tic but SFW mix of Green Day, Tal­ib Kweli, Regi­na Spek­tor, Bob Dylan, Ruben Blades, and many oth­ers. It’s down­tem­po protest music, overall—no Body Count or Rage Against the Machine. Even Green Day’s entry is a bal­lad, “Are We the Wait­ing” from Amer­i­can Idiot. But then again, Hamil­ton’s fans often tend toward the down­tem­po end of the spec­trum. Let a thou­sand protest songs bloom, I say.

Miran­da announced the playlist on a new Twit­ter account, where he’s received a cou­ple hun­dred replies, includ­ing one from a fan who put the mix on Google Play. For those so inspired to revis­it or hear for the first time Hamil­ton’s reimag­in­ing of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment, find the orig­i­nal cast record­ing below. If you need Spo­ti­fy’s free soft­ware, down­load it here.

via Bus­tle

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Whiskey-Fueled Lin-Manuel Miran­da Reimag­ines Hamil­ton as a Girl on Drunk His­to­ry

Alexan­der Hamil­ton: Hip-Hop Hero at the White House Poet­ry Evening

“Alexan­der Hamil­ton” Per­formed with Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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