Song of the Day #3,085: ‘Helpless’ – Hamilton Mixtape

hamilton_mixtapeOK, confession time. I’m not a big fan of the Hamilton Mixtape. It has its moments — principally the ones I’m featuring this week — but too much of it falls flat.

I think the problem is that Hamilton is already a hip-hop musical. It doesn’t benefit from “modernized” versions of its songs because it’s modern. An R&B remix of a South Pacific song might sound adventurous, but asking Alicia Keys and John Legend to perform songs that are already slinkily soulful adds very little.

For that reason, the best songs on the album are the ones not originally in the show. Unfortunately, that’s less than half of the record.

‘Helpless’ is an exception. It’s a rather straight-forward cover of the courtship song from the musical, but Ashanti and Ja Rule give it a playful, winning treatment.

I later learned that the song was originally composed with these two in mind, as an homage to their duets in the early ’00s. Miranda even drops into a Ja Rule growl when singing a line from this song in the original.

[Intro: Ja Rule]
Yeah, I like the way I came here
Rule
Shanti
Lin

[Chorus: Ashanti]
Helpless
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Verse 1: Ashanti]
I ain’t ever been the type to try and grab the spotlight
We were at the revel with some rebels on a hot night
Laughin’ at my sister as she dazzling the room
Then you walked in and my heart said [snap]
Tryin’ to catch your eye from the side of the ballroom
Everybody’s dancin’ and the bass top volume
Grind to the rhythm as we wine and dine
Saying to myself, “Baby, this one’s mine.”

[Pre-Chorus: Ashanti]
Shorti made her way across the room to you
And I got nervous, thinking “What’s she gonna do?”
She grabbed you by the arm, I’m thinkin’ “I’m through”
Then you look back at me and suddenly I’m

[Hook: Ashanti]
Helpless, yeah
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Chorus: Ashanti]
Helpless, yeah
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Verse 2: Ashanti]
One week later, I’m writin’ a letter nightly
Now my life gets better, every letter that you write me
Laughin’ at this girl, cuz she wants to form a harem
…No, I ain’t sharin’

Two weeks later, in the living room stressin’
My father’s stone-faced while you’re asking for his blessin’
I’m dying inside, as you wine and dine
And I’m tryin’ not to cry
‘Cause there’s nothing that your mind can’t do

[Pre-Chorus: Ashanti]
My father makes his way across the room to you
I panic for a second, thinking “we’re through”
But then he shakes your hand and says “be true”
And you turn back to me, smiling, and I’m

[Chorus: Ashanti]
Helpless, yeah
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

Helpless, yeah
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, (so helpless) baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Break: Ja Rule + Ashanti]
Ashanti, I don’t have a dollar to my name
An acre of land, a troop to command, a dollop of fame
All I have’s my honor, a tolerance for pain
A couple of college credits and my top-notch brain
Insane, your family brings out a different side of me
Peggy confides in me, Angelica tried to take a bite of me
No stress, my love for you is never in doubt
We’ll get a little place in Queens and we’ll figure it out
I’ve been livin’ without a family since I was a child
My father died, my mama cried, I grew up buck wild
But I’ll never forget my mother’s face, that was real
And long as I’m alive, Ashanti, swear to God
You’ll never feel so… (Baby I’m)

[Chorus: Ashanti & Ja Rule]
Helpless, yeah
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Ashanti + Ja Rule]
Helpless, yeah (I’m so helpless)
Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m
(Cause you know that I’m)
Helpless, baby
Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em

[Outro: Ashanti + Ja Rule]
Baby I’m
Yeah
Mm, so into you
So into you
Hahaha

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,085: ‘Helpless’ – Hamilton Mixtape

  1. Dana says:

    I don’t love everything on the mixtape, though I like more than half of it, including some of the more straightforward covers. I agree, however, that this cover works better than most. Ashanti gives this a sultry treatment, particularly in the way she sings the chorus.

  2. Maddie says:

    John Legend did an incredible job, so hardcore disagree on that one (even though I do think most of the straightforward covers didn’t do much for me, but I don’t consider his one of them).

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