Benjamin Haggerty- better known as Macklemore, rose to fame in the early 2010’s as a member of the music duo, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Hailing from Washington, he first came across hip hop at the age of six after listening to the works of Digital Underground. By the time he was in his mid-teens, Macklemore had started to write his own lyrics. Not long afterward, he also began singing, inspired by artists such as Lieving Legends, Michael Jackson and Kris Kross. While attending high school, he also founded a hip hop group with a few friends- the Elevated Elements; together, they released an album entitled, Progress. However, that was also the time that he started to get in trouble with heavy liquor and drugs. Wanting to help cut his habits, his parents ultimately moved him to another school. At the age of seventeen, the young rapper self-released an extended play entitled, Open Your Eyes (2000). From there, it wasn’t until 2005 that he came out with his full length debut album, The Language of My World.
In 2006, the Washington-native met Ryan Lewis for the first time; the two later formed a hip hop duo together in 2008. In the winter of 2011, the pair released their debut single, Wings under Macklemore’s own label. A moderate success, it was eventually followed by what would be their breakthrough hit, Can’t Hold Us later that same year. A chart topper, the record has since gone Platinum six times in the United States. The following year, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis dropped two additional singles, Same Love and Thrift Shop. Incredibly successful- especially the latter, they quickly propelled the duo into fame. A few months later, the two dropped their first full length album, The Heist (2012), which proved to be yet another success. Since then, they’ve released two studio albums, two extended plays, nine singles and eleven music videos.
One of the most popular hip hop duos to date, they’ve garnered several awards over the past few years including three Grammy Awards (e.g. Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance), two American Music Awards (e.g. Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album) from six nominations, a BET Award (e.g. Best Group) from three nominations, two BET Hip-Hop Award nominations, two Billboard Music Awards (e.g. Top Rap Song) among thirteen nominations, the list goes on. On television, Macklemore has also been featured in a handful of TV shows such as Wild ‘N Out (2013), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2013), Chelsea Lately (2013), Under the Gunn (2014), Good Morning America (2014), and Circus Halligalli (2016), to name a few.
So what has the hip hop recording artist been up to in the recent years? Will he and his long time partner, Ryan Lewis, be coming out with any new music releases? What does he have in store for fans this upcoming year? What can we expect from him? What happened to Macklemore? Where is he now in 2018?
Macklemore’s Early Life and Career Beginnings
Born on June 19, 1983 in Kent, Washington, Macklemore (Real Name: Benjamin Hammond Haggerty) is the son of Julie Schott and Bill Haggery; one of two children, he has a brother named Tim. Growing up, he had always had a fond fascination with music. In fact, he was first introduced to the world of hip hop at the age of six, after having heard the works of Digital Underground- an Oakland-based music group. Macklemore later recalled having listened to various explicit music underage in his youth. At the age of fifteen, he started to write his own music lyrics; before long, he had tried his hand out at singing, inspired by Michael Jackson and Kris Kross.
As a student, he went to Garfield High School- it was there that he formed a hip hop group with a few friends called Elevated Elements; they eventually released their own album dubbed Progress. However, it was also there that he started to get involved with heavy drugs and liquor. Wanted to help him curb the habit, his parents later transferred them to a college-credit program at a different school- which seemed to have helped. After graduation, Macklemore went to Evergreen State College located in Olympia, Washington; he successfully earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009.
During his time there, Macklemore also self-released his first EP entitled, Open Your Eyes (2000), under the stage name of “Professor Macklemore”. A few years later, he came out with his debut album, The Language of My World in the winter of 2005. It was not long afterward, that he met Ryan Lewis, who worked as his photographer at the time; they quickly became close friends. In 2008, they officially came together as the hip hop duo, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- their first performance was at the Sasquatch Music Festival at the George Amphitheatre. The following year, they released their debut EP, The Vs. EP (2009); it was later followed by The Vs. Redux in October of 2010.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Musical Endeavors Throughout the Years
On January 21, 2011, the hip hop duo came out with their debut single, Wings. Recorded between 2009 and 2010, the song revolved around the idea of pursuing identity through consumerism- the notion was explained by Macklemore in a later interview. Written by Hollis Wong Wear, Ben Haggerty, and Ryan Lewis, the title eventually peaked at number twelve on the Billbobard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles Chart and at number forty on the Hot R&B and Hip Hop Songs Chart. Outside of the United States, their debut effort also charted in Australia and France. A moderate success, it has since sold over 500,000 copies- a feat that earned it Gold certification from the RIAA.
However, it wasn’t until 2013 that they rose to prominence with the subsequent single, Can’t Hold Us. Featuring Grammy-nominated Ray Dalton, its “infectious chorus” garnered high praises from many critics. A sleeper hit in the US, it wasn’t until May of 2013 that it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The pair’s first number one hit, it later also topped the Billboard Rhythmic, Mainstream Top 40, Hot R&B and Hip Hop Songs, and Dance Club songs Chart. Overseas, it was met with similar success in Poland, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, the UK, among numerous other countries. In 2014, Can’t Hold Us was nominated for a Grammy Award for the category of “Best Music Video”.
A year later on October 9, 2012, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis dropped their debut studio album, The Heist. Containing three years’ worth of work, the indie hip hop album was self-recorded, self-released, and self-produced wholly by the pair. Originally announced in July of 2012, the standard disc contained fifteen tracks including Ten Thousand Hours, Cowboy Boots, Jimmy Lovine, Make the Money, Neon Cathedral, and Same Love; the album also included guest appearances from many artists such as Evan Roman, Allen Stone, Ray Dalton, Mary Lambert, and Hollis. In addition, three additional songs were also released via a deluxe version of the album.
Met with critical acclaim, The Heist entered the US Billboard 200 at number two- only behind Babel by Mumford & Sons- by the end of the first week, it had sold over 78,000 copies, making it their best debut to date at the time. Supported by a total of five singles, the album eventually also charted in countries such as Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France, and the UK. Their most successful album to date, it later earned them a Grammy Award for “Best New Artist”, among two nominations- the other for “Album of the Year”. As of 2016, well over 1.4 million copies have been sold in the United States.
Prior to the release of their second full length album, Macklemore and his partner released the single, Downtown on August 27, 2015. Written by a team consisting of Jacob Dutton, Ben Haggerty, Joshua Karp, Eric Nally, and Ryan Lewis, it debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number ninety four; it eventually managed to peak at number twelve. As well, it also reached number six on the Hot R&B Songs Chart and number nine on the Mainstream Top 40. Hailed by multiple publications such as USA Today which hailed it as a recreation of Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, it also spawned a music video that has since been viewed over 137,000 times on Youtube. Since it was first released, Downtown has gone Platinum in the US.
Just a day before the release of their next album, its second single, Dance Off was released via digital download; interestingly enough, the song was never released as a standalone in the United States. Featuring Anderson .Paak and Idris Elba, Dance Off earned many high praises from critics- who lauded it for its high production values. Chart performance wise-, it peaked the highest in Australia, where it settled at number seven; additionally, it also charted in Belgium, France, Ireland, and New Zealand.
The next day, they dropped their next studio album entitled, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made on February 26, 2016. Produced this time with the help of Budo and Oboohoo, it sold approximately 61,000 units in the first week after having debuted at the fourth position on the US Billboard Top 200; on the Top R&B and Hip Hop Albums Chart, it peaked at number one. Featuring an hour’s worth of hip hop music, the album came with a thirteen-song track list which consisted of the titles The Train, White Privlege II, Need to Know, Brad Pitt’s Cousin, and Let’s Eat. Much like their earlier work, it also featured appearances from several other artists such as Leon Bridges, Chance the Ripper, Xperience, Jamila Woods, and Carla Morrison.
Despite being a commercial success, critical reception toward the album was primarily mixed. For instance, while Vice Magazine gave it a score of A-, other sources such as The Guardian and the Rolling Stone thought less of its contents- having awarded it a two star and a three star rating respectively. Nevertheless, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made continued to boost the pair’s popularity both domestically and internationally. According to Niel Soundscan, the album has since sold 667,000 copies across the globe.
What’s Macklemore Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
A big fan of the artist? According to their official website, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be holding a series of concerts the next few months- so here’s your chance to see them perform up close and personal! From Phoenix, Arizona to Lucca, Italy, the pair will be hitting up several big cities with their music. For more information about the tour dates, please visit their official website at macklemore.com
In other news, the 33-year-old rapper was recently spotted taking his adorable toddler on a tropical vacation for some much needed father-and-daughter time. Just a few weeks ago, Macklemore snapped a picture of his little girl on the airplane and posted it onto his Instagram account- the image has since received over 110,000 likes by fans!
If you’d like to stay up to date with the hip hop artist, you can do so by following him on social media- you can find Macklemore on Twitter or Instagram at @Macklemore. Additionally, you can also check out his official website as mentioned above.