liner notes

‘Hamilton Mixtape’ Producer !llmind Talks Teaming With Lin-Manuel Miranda & Hints at Unreleased Material (Billboard):


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 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.


read more about !llmind’s process in the studio for the Mixtape… & check out the ham4ham show starring Lil Buck where the remix collaboration originated!

Black Messiah is a hell of a name for an album. It can easily be misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah.


It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song on this album is politically charged (though many are), but calling this album Black Messiah creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.”

This music is about YOU.  Using an ancient scientific process (WORK + TIME + HEART), we have done everything we can to make sure you have the f#$%ing time of your life listening to this record.  On the day you win it all, on the day things couldn’t get any worse, crank it.  May it give you strength & unbreakable hope.  May it kindle wild ideas and empower you to make them real.  May you turn all the NOs into big blazing YESses.
—  “Talking is Hard” liner notes, Walk the Moon 

Mixtape liner notes [x x]

Making The Hamilton Mixtape: Lin-Manuel Miranda explains the stories behind the songs (Entertainment Weekly):

“Dear Theodosia” Regina Spektor featuring Ben Folds and “Dear Theodosia (Reprise)” Chance the Rapper feat. Francis and the Lights

Hamilton and Burr’s lullaby to their newborn children was in high demand: Both Regina Spektor and Chance the Rapper, a new father, requested to cover it. “We were like, ‘Okay, who’s gonna be the bad guy to tell this person that the other one has the song?’” producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson recalls. But when both artists submitted remarkably distinct tracks, the team made an unorthodox choice. “I said, ‘Well, this is a mixtape. There isn’t a rule against what we can do with it,’” says Thompson. “We decided to keep both.”

Ben Folds, for his part, is pleased with that decision: “Reggie sang the s— out of that song,” he says. “I was just happy to be there. I would have been the water boy if she wanted me to… But I was glad I didn’t have rap.”


“That Would Be Enough” by Alicia Keys

Miranda says his favorite evening during the making of Mixtape started with a phone call. “We got a call from Alicia Keys, who had agreed to do ‘That Would Be Enough,’ saying, ‘She doesn’t want to just send it to you, she wants to play it for you in her studio and talk to you about it,’” Miranda recalls. “I turned to Jonathan Groff [who originated the role of King George on Broadway], who was my roommate at the time, and said, ‘Do you want to come listen to Alicia Keys’s version of the song with me?’” He breaks into excited giggles at the memory. “So we jumped in a car immediately after our show, raced to her studio downtown, and as the Great Blizzard of 2016 started, we were sitting in a room at midnight with Alicia Keys—not only hearing her amazing version of ‘That Would Be Enough,’ but she also played us half the tracks on her new album early.”


“Burn” by Andra Day

Scheduling issues have kept R&B star Andra Day from catching Hamilton on Broadway (“I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen it,” she says), but she was deeply familiar with the story. “I was actually obsessed with Alexander Hamilton in school,” she says. She chose to cover “Burn” after being drawn to Eliza’s “raw, fiery, painful emotion,” and says it was easy getting into the mindset of Hamilton’s wife when she finds out her husband has had an affair: “I already had such an empathy for her. Even before the show came out, I was like, ‘You know what? The guy’s a dirtbag.’”


“Washingtons By Your Side” by Wiz Khalifa

While Wiz Khalifa admits that “Dear Theodosia” made him cry when he saw Hamilton, there was only one song he instantly felt he could rework and make his own: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr’s taunting, “Washington On Your Side.” “I was like, ‘That’s the one,’” he says. Miranda adds, “He was like, ‘I want to do Washington’s On Your Side,’ but I want to be talking about money,’ and we’re like, ‘Go! Go and bring it back!’” The result was a hit with Miranda: “I was just happy he liked the idea,” says Khalifa, “instead of thinking it was kind of weird.”

either save it for surprises or prepare yourself for the full drop with notes on the rest of the Mixtape!


David Tennant and The Proclaimers

Spanning David’s first meeting with the Proclaimers to them presenting him with a special National Television Award.

Excerpt from the Graham Norton Show “Uncut” (April 2007)

Graham Norton:  You were in a fantastic video, the Proclaimers video
David Tennant:  I was
GN:  …and of course the Proclaimers are going to be playing for us in a few moments. They’re here.  The Proclaimers are in the building.  Was it all filmed in one day?
DT:  No!  I got a phone call… Matt Lucas phoned me up and said, “I’m gonna do this thing.”  He knew I’m a big Proclaimers fan.  He said, “Oh come along.  Join in.”  I said of course I will! I’ll get to meet the Proclaimers! But they’d been and gone when I turned up!  They’d filmed their bit, and I’m just stuck with Johnny Ball and Rod, Jane, and Freddie up the back!  And Dusty Bin.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re lovely people (especially Dusty Bin), but I was devastated.  So to find that tonight I might actually get to meet the Proclaimers… I’m a little bit over-excited.
GN: I hate to break it to you, but we did tape them in the afternoon.  They’re not here.
DT: <long pause> I wouldn’t have a sense of humor about that.
GN: They are here, they are here.  Don’t worry.

Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu, better known as The Lijadu Sisters, are the much loved Nigerian singer-songwriters. Born in Jos - northern Nigeria - in 1948 the pair sang and wrote songs from a young age and later established themselves as session singers. By the time they were 20, their beautiful voices and unique sound helped them get ahead, even in a music industry whose best-known stars - Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Victor Uwaifo, Ayinla Kollington - were men.  At just 20 they had released their first single ‘Iya Mi Jowo’ (“mother please”). The track 'Danger’ was released in 1976 on an album of the same name. On the surface at lease it’s about a 'dangerous lover’, but it might also be said to address broader contexts (compare it to Fela’s 'Zombie’, also released in 1976, an eviscerating take on army and police abuse of power). A little known about 'Danger’ is that it has a bridge which is almost identical to the one used by Jamaican duo Althea and Donna on their international hit ’Uptown Top Ranking’ (1975) and Trinity’s ’Three Piece Suit’ (1977). The Sisters say the influence is a matter of coincidence, 'something that was in the air at the time’.

Made with SoundCloud

This Thursday, join Liner Notes duo, artist Nate Sensel and DJ Sintalentos, for Figure Drawing: Beats and Baroque, a unique art-making experience in celebration of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. In lieu of the Drop-In Drawing series, Nate has taken inspiration from Wiley’s exploration of representation, process of street-casting, and ornate background imagery to transform the Glass Pavilion into a multi-faceted studio. Visitors will sketch from live models against one of the backgrounds that Wiley incorporated in his own work.

In case you ever wondered what music might accompany one of Wiley’s larger-than-life portraits, DJ Sintalentos has created a special set to add the beats to our festivities. As our models strike a pose, experiment with sketching techniques and materials, enjoy music and drinks, and meet new people. You can check out DJ Sintalentos’ mixes for previous Liner Notes sessions via Spotify and YouTube.

Tickets include Museum admission, supplies, and a complimentary drink. Come early for a Curator Tour of the exhibition with Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, at 6 p.m.

Posted by Margo Cohen Ristorucci