Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Hamilton Mixtape [Atlantic, 2016]
Few of the three dozen featured performers are any kind of hanger-on--Jimmy Fallon sure, maybe Andra Day or Francis and the Lights, but not, for instance, Snow Tha Product or Riz MC or Residente, who take the multilingual "Immigrants" home. But it is a mixtape--up, down, and all over the place. So its lessons and pleasures hang together in only one respect--by proving that committed rappers and pop stars do more for these theater songs than the actors who rendered them a phenomenon. It also reminds us that a hyper-intelligent rapper of dubious flow will eventually sound iconic if granted sufficient access to our earholes--Kanye West, meet Lin-Manuel Miranda. It affords Kelly Clarkson the smartest big ballad of her leather-lunged life. It finds a social use for Ja Rule and Wiz Khalifa. It folds in an anti-slavery bonus. It gives Dessa a chance. In some kinda way, it works. A-