“It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, ‘immigrant’ has somehow become a bad word.”
So opens “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” one of the newest tracks off Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton Mixtape. Though the full album is set for a December 2 release, select tracks have been released to buy on iTunes and stream on Spotify as a sort of tease, with “Immigrants” and Sia’s take on “Satisfied” (featuring Miguel and Queen Latifah) coming out on November 11.
Sia’s “Satisfied” is a sweeping ballad, motivating in that sneaker-commercial way that makes you want to try jogging even if it’ll end with your face on the pavement.
But “Immigrants” feels especially pointed this week, after Donald Trump — a man whose campaign was centered on building a wall on the Mexican border and insisting that he would bar Muslims from entering the country — won the presidency.
Based on a line from Hamilton’s “The Battle of Yorktown,” this mixtape song brings together a quartet of rappers for a scorching rejection of hate and the idea that immigrants are anything less than integral to this country.
Somali-Canadian K’naan raps about coming to America for freedom, but with his eyes wide open: “Man, I was brave sailing on graves / Don’t think I didn’t notice those tombstones disguised as waves.”
British-Pakistani actor and rapper Riz Ahmed — whom you may know as the star of HBO’s The Night Of — mourns the “blood of [his] ancestors,” or “the ink you print on your dollar bill, the oil you spill.”
Puerto Rican rapper Residente taps in for an entirely Spanish verse about the resilience of immigrants, and who benefits. “Nosotros les sembramos el árbol y ellos se comen la fruta,” he says. In English: “We plant the tree, and they reap the fruit.”
But the most searing verses may come from Snow Tha Product, a Mexican American who spits fire in both English and Spanish about the injustice of immigrants being ignored as they work hard for those denying their accomplishments:
There ain't a paper trail when you living in the shadows
We're America’s ghostwriters, the credit is only borrowed
It’s a matter of time before the checks all come.
“Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” was recorded before the election results came in, but that only underscores how much its emotion and determination resonates beyond any one event — and how important it will be to hear these voices in the coming years.