How would you describe Lin’s hip-hop knowledge?
Lin is like a hip-hop dictionary. He’s one of the few cats I’ve met that literally knows everything about hip-hop from the super underground stuff to the current stuff. And then he’s just a genius when it comes to writing and poetry so like he’s super hip to the lyricists, what they meant and certain hidden meanings behind lyrics. He’s like a living breathing Genius.com when it comes to hip-hop. I super respect it. When you look at Hamilton and you listen to the lyrics, when you see the play, you can see whoever wrote that stuff was really deep and knowledgeable. That’s just who he is.
What was your first reaction to the play?
The play was amazing. I understood why people loved it. I think it was an amazing introduction of hip-hop to that demographic because a lot of people that [watch the play] aren’t hip-hop listeners. I think it opened up the culture of hip-hop to that demographic in a really, really cool way, an educational way, and an entertaining way. The play was amazing. The production value, the writing and the music – the whole thing was crazy.
What was the vision Lin really wanted per your conversations and working with him in those early stages?
I think the vision was to take what made the play great, and those concepts and those philosophies in the play and sort of bridge that gap between hip-hop and urban listeners and Hamilton fans and supporters. Taking popular themes from the play and then creating brand-new songs without going too far left, without losing the beauty of the original music. When you throw in superstars to perform the songs, you can’t really go wrong. I think the goal was to try and breathe new life into the music without taking away too much.
Artists from different genres contributed to the mixtape. Did you recommend certain collaborations to Lin?
There are a handful of really crazy collaborations that are in the pipeline. I can’t say who, but he announced there was more coming. I don’t know when [the songs will be released] but I know there’s more music, and there’s definitely more music that exists with some crazy collaborations. Then, you know, I have my own dream collaborators in my mind that I have yet to pitch to Lin, but we will see what happens.
How did the “Take a Break” interlude come about?
Back when we were working on The Hamilton Mixtape, this was probably late 2015, I got a phone call from Lin out of the blue. I was in the studio. He was like, “Hey !ll, I’m doing this #Ham4Ham contest and we have this amazing dancer that’s going to dance for the people who are trying to get tickets and we need a beat for it. I have this song that I want you to remix, and I really want you to make a turnt-up version of it.” I told Lin, “Hell yeah, I’ll do it. Let me know when you need it and what you have in mind.” So we got a couple ideas going back and forth and I literally just stopped what I was doing. I spent the next three to four hours working on the track and I sent it back and he was like, “Yo this crazy, I love it.” So he actually ended up using it for one of the #Ham4Ham episodes on YouTube. He loved it so much that he decided to put it on the mixtape.