From the streets of Seattle to the headlining stages across the country, the rap duo known as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are easily becoming the breakout music stars of the year, reaching major commercial success despite working without a label.
The pair burst onto the major music scene and gained popularity last summer with their song, “Same Love,” which spread throughout social media for its inspiring messages about marriage equality.
However, the group reached commercial success with and breakout hit, “Thrift Shop,” from their album “The Heist.” Since its release, the song has peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and number 17 on the iTunes charts.
It is that success and drive of the group that has left a unique impression on a younger generation.
“He doesn’t sound like Kendrick or Bronson or any of these other dudes and I don’t think he wants to,” Cody Miles, Sam Houston State University graduate and aspiring rapper, said. “People like Macklemore because he’s like us. He wrote Thrift Shop because he’s wasn’t Drake rich. And we like Thrift Shop because we’re not either. I think other things contribute to that too. His flow is real conducive to making us feel like he’s just talking to us.”
Despite their current major success, the group has been part of the music world for several years, dating back to the 2000s when Macklemore, then known as Ben Haggerty, was a solo act rapping in local festivals and venues in Seattle.
Macklemore released his first full-length album “The Language of My World” in 2005. Unlike most artists who produce their music with the help of a label, Macklemore worked independently to write, produce and distribute his work.
After battling an addiction to OxyContin and a stint in rehab, the artist rebuilt himself and teamed up with music producer Ryan Lewis in 2008 to become the collaborative unit that fans know today, according to The Seattle Times. Together, the duo released “The Unplanned Mixtape” in Sept. 2009 and the “VS Redux EP” in Oct. 2010 which tracks like “And We Danced” and “Otherside”, a song inspired by Macklemore’s experience with substance abuse.
Since then, the pair has released “The Heist” in Oct. 2012, which has been met with major commercial success and its own tour, all done through their self-run label.
The group has also recently performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and at the South By South West Festival in Austin, Texas in March. The group will also headline its own act in the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston this summer.