Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Making it on jokes & honesty


text: Jaclyn Witherly

When hearing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis most will instantly think of the current #1 song on the iTunes Hip Hop chart, “Thrift Shop”. It’s hilarious, danceable and has all the makings of a pop hit. It does, however, have a deeper message hidden under all the comedy. In fact, this is a surprisingly light track for the band; most of the previously  produced songs have been political and laced with strong messages. “Same Love” off the newest album, The Heist, for example targets homophobia and is promoting gay tolerance while  “Wings” is about consumerism and how brands and labels are taking over society.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is not one of those rapper duos you may have heard on the radio singing about thousands of dollars in the making, poppin’  Patron bottles, or flaunting Gucci. They’re the total opposite. “Thrift shop” speaks realistically to the public in uncertain economic times while maintaining the status quo as a joke. Macklemore’s rapping  is sarcastic and puts a whole new spin on dollar bills.

Macklemore has been making music and writing lyrics since he was a teen and back in the day he was known as Ben Haggerty. His debut album, The Language of my World, was released in 2005, and since then he’s developed a reputation for putting his whole heart and soul into each  performance, regardless of the size of audience. He raps about issues like racism, prejudice, drugs and violence but does so in a way that hits close to home.

While Macklemore might come off as a mellower, more down- to-earth Immortal Technique, and his lyrics are just as clever,  he manages to deliver some of the darker topics in a lighter way. Humor  woven through serious, thought-provoking subjects makes it that much easier to swallow a full spoon of medicine. Take “Penis Song” for example, it’s hilarious and much blunter than most mainstream music, but I’m sure most men can relate to it on a serious level.

Professor Macklemore was how he originally introduced himself as a recording artist when releasing his debut EP, Open Your Eyes in 2000. After recording The Language of my World and The Unplanned Mixtape in 2009 he dropped the “Professor” part.It’s definitely not a secret that Macklemore struggled with substance abuse but he has taken his experiences and turned them into songs such as “Otherside” a Red Hot Chili Peppers remix. Once he cleaned up, he teamed up with Ryan Lewis who directs, produces, photographs and DJ’s all of their material and together they’ve done some sick work, releasing an EP called The VS.EP in 2009, The VS.Redux, the following year and The Heist this past October.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are not signed by any major record label but this hasn’t limited them in any way, their fan base and popularity have been growing at an intense pace.  Some of the songs have been featured in European beer ads and  two  of their music videos have over 41 million views on YouTube. Recently, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their song of tolerance ‘Same Love’ on the Ellen DeGeneres. Rolling Stone magazine called Macklemore an “indie rags to riches story.”  Macklemore seems to have dived into the music world fuelled solely by passion and is a low key, underclass citizen trying to spread vital messages to people because he genuinely holds concern.


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