Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

2009-
  • Songs
  • Artistfacts ®
  • The hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis formed out of Seattle, Washington in 2009, three years after they became friends on MySpace. Lewis started working as Macklemore's photographer, but it wasn't long before they started making music together, with Lewis taking on the producing, mixing, and engineering responsibilities.
  • Ben Haggerty made his debut as Professor Macklemore in 2000 with the EP Open Your Eyes but would later drop the "Professor" in time for his full-length debut with The Language of My World in 2005.
  • The duo's claim to fame was the surprise chart-topping hit "Thrift Shop," the fifth single from their debut album, The Heist (2012). It was quite a feat for an independent act without the benefit of a major record label. They do, however, work with Alternative Distribution Alliance, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records, to distribute their music. "But we have no deal with Warner, and there's no contract whatsoever," Lewis explained to HipHopDX in 2013. "We're 100% independent, but we're using resources from a bigger label for particular small things and hiring them out. And that shit has never really happened! That shit is just brand-f---in'-new."

    In contrast to many rap songs that flaunt wealth and excess, the track praised frugality and eschewed designer duds for bargain-basement threads.
  • From as early as grade school, Haggerty says he struggled with his sexuality. Although he identifies as a straight male, he penned the song "Same Love" as an antidote to the homophobia that's prevalent in hip-hop.
  • Haggerty took a hiatus from music to confront his addiction to drugs and alcohol. After a worried plea from his father, he checked himself into rehab in 2008. "I don't have moderation when using drugs and alcohol. It got to the point where it was hurting my life, my potential," he told The Independent.
  • Haggerty guest-starred on an episode of Sesame Street as the character "Mucklemore" to teach Oscar the Grouch and friends how to recycle.
  • "Thrift Shop"'s meteoric rise to the top of the charts also marked the first time a Seattle act hit #1 since Sir Mix-a-Lot landed there with "Baby Got Back" in 1992.
  • Lewis poked fun at his own anonymity as the lesser-known member of the duo in a segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he took to the streets undisguised and asked oblivious hip-hop fans what they knew about Ryan Lewis.
  • Haggerty is married to former nurse Tricia Davis. They got engaged in early 2013 and tied the knot in January 2015. She took on duties as the tour manager for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
  • Before becoming a successful rapper, Haggerty worked at the Seattle Zoo, where he reportedly stole money from the register to fund his music career.
  • Ryan Lewis has a degree in Comparative History of Ideas.
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