[…] Soon, however, momentum for the stage musical took off, and the mixtape plan took a back seat. Mr. Morales reached out to members of the Roots, the “Tonight Show” house band and a pillar of hip-hop themselves, to help produce the original cast recording as well as the mixtape. They were reluctant. Roots co-founder and rapper Tariq Trotter, also known as Black Thought, says he steeled himself for awkwardness when he was dragged to an off-Broadway performance of “Hamilton.” “I did not want to be stuck in a room where people were going to be rapping conversations,” Mr. Trotter recalls.
Instead, the result was a “total fanning out” with Mr. Miranda after the show. Roots drummer Ahmir Thompson, known as Questlove, joined Mr. Trotter and the other executive producers. They applied hip-hop studio techniques to the original cast recording to help it stand out from other theater soundtracks. The cast album earned a Grammy, has sold 873,000 copies and received 883 million streams, according to Nielsen Music.
When the producers turned their attention back to the mixtape, they found their list of star contributors growing in step with the musical’s popularity. John Legend reimagined “History Has Its Eyes On You,” a showtune delivered by George Washington, as a gospel anthem. Kelly Clarkson was pregnant with her son when she first heard the song that she recorded, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” a ballad about Hamilton’s deceased son that left her in a “puddle of tears,” as she told Mr. Kallman via email.
The mixtape also features rough demos recorded by Mr. Miranda when he was writing the show, plus new songs such as “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done).” Inspired by a now-famous line in the musical, the song features a closing verse in Spanish by the Puerto Rican rapper Residente.
Mr. Trotter says he initially struggled to add his own words to “My Shot,” the Hamilton character’s signature song. The rapper scrapped multiple versions and literal references to duels and muskets. “It didn’t roll off the tongue until I took a step back and dealt with different kinds of life-changing shots,” he says. He launches his verse with “mug shot, gun shot, dope shot, jump shot.”
For certain tunes, the producers received verses from a half-dozen different artists recorded at different times and places. As they mixed and matched these contributions, they realized they had enough surplus material to consider a “Hamilton Mixtape” volume two.
The new album is aimed at “Hamilton” fans who have worn out the Broadway soundtrack, but the show’s creator also sees it as another Trojan horse for hip-hop. “In a way you’re an ambassador for the genre,” Mr. Miranda says, recalling guidelines he offered to mixtape contributors. “Make your verses about whatever you want, but come with bars and serious lyrics to get people even more hooked on this incredible style of music.”