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A grassroots success who crossed over into the pop mainstream, fun-loving and insightful Seattle rapper Macklemore topped the charts as part of the Grammy-winning duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis while balancing an equally successful solo career that bridged the rap, pop, and dance worlds. Along with Lewis, he released the 2012 platinum-certified hit album The Heist, as well as 2016's This Unruly Mess I've Made. Macklemore's 2017 solo effort, Gemini, was also an international hit, reaching number two on Billboard's albums chart upon release. His third solo set, Ben, arrived in 2023. In addition to his musical output, the emcee is an avid supporter of addiction recovery and awareness. Born Ben Haggerty and raised in Seattle, he debuted as Professor Macklemore in 2000 with the Open Your Eyes EP. Five years later his debut album, The Language of My World, earned him a local following, but it was his 2010 team-up with DJ/producer Ryan Lewis for the Vs. Redux EP that yielded the Red Hot Chili Peppers-sampling hit "Otherside." With Macklemore's wit meeting Lewis' inventive production, further hits like "My Oh My" and "Can't Hold Us" were spread throughout social media and video-sharing sites, setting the stage for a successful sophomore release. That came in 2012 when The Heist arrived as a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis release, debuting at the number two spot on the Billboard 200. Its single "Thrift Shop" topped the Billboard Hot 100, and the album eventually reached platinum sales status. The duo performed another one of the record's singles, "Same Love," at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards during a marriage ceremony for over 30 couples. That night, the pair took the awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. In 2015, Macklemore & Lewis returned with "Downtown," the first single from their second collaborative effort, This Unruly Mess I've Made. The 2016 album also featured "Kevin," a song they debuted live at the 2015 American Music Awards with guest star Leon Bridges, along with the elaborate and politically charged second single "White Privilege II." Macklemore followed Mess with a handful of solo singles released in 2016 ("Drug Dealer" with Ariana DeBoo and "Wednesday Morning") and 2017 ("Glorious" with Skylar Grey). The latter track would appear on his official sophomore solo effort, Gemini, which arrived in late 2017. The album featured additional guests Lil Yachty, Migos' Offset, and Eric Nally, who reunited with Macklemore on "Ain't Gonna Die Tonight" (he'd previously featured on "Downtown"). Upon release, Gemini topped charts in the U.S. and Canada and was a Top Ten hit across the globe. To promote the record, Macklemore embarked on a U.S. headline jaunt with album guest Kesha in the summer of 2018. He continued to tour internationally as the decade closed, buoyed by the hit dance singles "These Days" with Rudimental, Jess Glynne, and Dan Caplen; "I Don't Belong in This Club" with Why Don't We; and "Summer Days" with Martin Garrix and Patrick Stump. In late 2021, Macklemore revealed that he had reconnected with Ryan Lewis. That October, the pair released "Next Year" with vocalist Windser. Soon after, Macklemore teamed with Australian singer/songwriter Tones and I on the uplifting single "CHANT." The latter track landed on his third solo effort Ben, which was released in March 2023. A lively blend of uplifting pop and introspective old-school hip-hop anthems, the set mainly focused on the pain and growth he experienced after a relapse during the COVID-19 lockdowns. In addition to Tones and I, Ben also featured guests DJ Premier, NLE Choppa, a returning Windser, and more.
© Neil Z. Yeung & David Jeffries /TiVo


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