Who Is Macklemore?

Rapper Macklemore fell in love with hip-hop as a kid and eventually released solo work before succumbing to drug abuse and entering rehab in 2008. He then teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis, and the two 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. In 2014, the duo won four Grammys, including the prize for Best New Artist, and released their sophomore effort This Unruly Mess I've Made two years later.

Background and Early Career

The rapper known as Macklemore was born Ben Haggerty on June 19, 1983, in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in the Capitol Hill area. His mother was a social worker who encouraged her son to be supportive of differences. 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.

Drug Abuse and Rehab

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.

Teaming Up With Ryan Lewis

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.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 14: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis pose at the mtvU Woodie Awards on March 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Major Hits: 'Thrift Shop' and 'Can't Hold Us'

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 pair'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 & Ryan Lewis embarked on a full-fledged international tour in 2013. The next year the duo won four Grammys, including several awards in the hip-hop category and the prize for Best New Artist. As seen via his Instagram account, Macklemore later sent an apologetic text to fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar stating he felt Lamar should have won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

The hip-hop duo released their second album, This Unruly Mess I've Made, in 2016, preceded by Top 20 lead single "Downtown."

Wife and Children

In 2013, after seven years of dating, Haggerty got engaged to Tricia Davis. The couple's first child was born in May 2015, and the following month the pair tied the knot. Their second child was born in March 2018.


  • Name: Macklemore
  • Birth Year: 1983
  • Birth date: June 19, 1983
  • Birth State: Washington
  • Birth City: Seattle
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Macklemore is an American rapper who's part of the hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, known for the hits "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us."
  • Astrological Sign: Gemini

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right,contact us!


  • Article Title: Macklemore Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/musicians/macklemore
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: August 22, 2019
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014


  • 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.