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Macklemore is a rapper who's part of famed hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, known for the hits "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us."
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Macklemore was born on June 19, 1983, in Seattle, Washington. Taking to hip-hop as a kid, he eventually released solo work before succumbing to drug abuse and entering rehab in 2008. He then teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis, and the duo went on to have huge success with their debut album, The Heist, and the singles "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us," with millions of copies sold.
"I'm always in a process of trying to find out who I am and why I'm here. And that hasn't changed. That's what 'The Heist' is about."
"The first song I remember writing that I really liked was about Martin Luther King Jr. I guess I've always been into consciousness-raising. What I tend to write about falls into four categories—spiritual, social, personal and fun."
"It's very important to go into the rooms of AA, smell the shitty coffee and be reminded that without sobriety, I would have no career."
"I was a weird, creative, extroverted child. And I always had a desire to be on a stage."
"We have control of our music. Why would we want to give that to somebody else? If we would have signed to a label, I can almost guarantee you we wouldn't have had the success with 'Thrift Shop' and with 'Can't Hold Us' and with 'The Heist,' in general."
"I put myself in the place of the listener when editing my writing. The last thing that I want to do is be preached at and told who to be or what to think when listening to an artist. However, I do want to be inspired."
The rapper known as Macklemore was born Ben Haggerty on June 19, 1983, in Seattle, Washington, growing up in the Capitol Hill area. His mother was a social worker who encouraged her son to be supportive of difference. He took to performing as a child, and was influenced by the likes of hip-hop groups Kris Kross and Digital Underground as well as pop superstar Michael Jackson.
He eventually attended Garfield High School, the alma mater of musical luminaries like Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix. It was at Garfield where Haggerty started to use liquor and drugs heavily, though his parents tried to end the habit by moving him to another school and into a college-credit program.
He attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and in 2000 released an EP dubbed Open Your Eyes under the moniker Professor Macklemore. He released his full-length debut, The Language of My World, in 2005.
With the young rapper increasingly entering the spotlight, he was consumed by the allure of sex and a variety of drugs, spiraling downward from the abuse. At his father's behest, Macklemore entered a 35-day rehab program in the summer of 2008.
Right before he took steps to become sober, Macklemore had met teenage DJ and producer Ryan Lewis. The two teamed up and in 2010 released the Vs. Redux EP. Rather than go the traditional record-label route, the duo opted instead to work on their full-length debut independently, relying on their own business savvy, hard work, word of mouth and online buzz. They released the album The Heist in October 2012.
The album's lead single, "Thrift Shop," eventually reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with eventual sales of more than 6 million downloads. The video for "Thrift Shop" has become a phenomenon as well, receiving tens of millions of YouTube views. The duo's second single, "Can't Hold Us," reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart as well, making Macklemore & Ryan Lewis the first duo in music history to have their first two singles reach the top of the pop charts.
Part of the duo's appeal is their innovation and reliance on ideas and lyrics that go against much of hip-hop's traditional swagger. "Thrift Shop" talks of a penchant for secondhand clothes, with a chorus sung by Wanz (a onetime software engineer in his fifties), while the Heist song "Same Love" features singer-songwriter Mary Lambert in a celebration of same-sex unions.
Macklemore and Lewis have embarked on a full-fledged international tour in 2013.
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