5 Things to Know About the Man Behind America's No. 2 Song, 'Thrift Shop'
All you need to know about rising rapper Macklemore.
Since dropping The Heist, his debut album with DJ-producer Ryan Lewis, in October, the Seattle rapper has taken the music scene by storm. Though he's been making music for more than a decade, Macklemore has skyrocketed to new commercial success with his latest LP, which hit No. 1 on iTunes in its first week and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Now the MC's platinum single, "Thrift Shop," a catchy ode to secondhand style (read the rhymes at DirectLyrics), has reached new heights on the Hot 100, nabbing the No. 2 slot just behind Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven." But despite his new-found fame, Macklemore remains much of a mystery outside of the Pacific Northwest.
That's why Celebuzz is breaking down the five need-to-know facts about this chart-blazing rapper.
1. He has not — and will not — sign with a mainstream label. But that hasn't stopped Macklemore and Lewis from building a buzzy movement. Through the internet and social media, the pair has amassed a passionate fan base, staged sold-out tours across the United States and blazed Billboard charts, all without major-label backing. “I think it’s really important for artists to have an online presence," the MC, born Ben Haggerty, who operates his indie company Macklemore LLC, told VIBETV. "It’s just the way we get information, particularly this younger generation…. [But] you don’t want to use it for just soliciting. It’s an opportunity to let them know who you are as a person.”
2. He's been spitting rhymes since his teens. “Hip hop and rap have been a part of my life since I was like seven years old,” Macklemore told VIBETV. “I started rapping when I was 14 years old. [I] started out like real lunch room, writing raps in language arts class. The first thing that I ever recorded myself on, I went to a thrift shop, and got a big a** karaoke tape deck and brought it home and that was my summertime passion.”
3. He's a supporter of same-sex marriage. “I watched so many records receiving critical acclaim that were very derogatory to homosexuals. That and misogyny are still kind of the two very acceptable means of oppression in terms of hip-hop culture," he told Studio 360. "It’s 2012. There needs to be some accountability." That's why Macklemore laid down his strident support for same-sex rights in "Same Love" on The Heist. "If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/ Have you read the YouTube comments lately?" he raps. "'Man, that’s gay' gets dropped on the daily/ We become so numb to what we’re saying.... I might not be the same, but that’s not important/ No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it."
4. He takes pride in his sobriety. Early in his still-young career, Macklemore took a hiatus to battle his addiction to drugs and alcohol. But his fight for sobriety is not a secret kept from his fans — he tackles the life-threatening struggle in "The Other Side" and "Starting Over," a brutally-honest Heist track in which he reveals his relapse after more than three years sober. “As humans, we have layers to ourselves. And I use music as a tool to kind of shed these layers [and] get to some sort of inherent truth within myself," he explained to VIBETV. "It’s about communicating what’s really going on inside of my heart.”
5. He is all about hand-me-down fashions. "I shop at thrift shops probably five times a week," Macklemore told MTV News. "I waste a lot of money, a lot of time at thrift shops ... it's a great way to spend rapper money." But since he's spent much of his life shopping the secondhand racks, he's become a pro at navigating such stores. "When you walk into a thrift store, you cannot have any expectations," he told GQ. "You have to be open-minded, and you've gotta dig around the entire store — not just the men's section. Hit up the shoe section, the women's section, the toy section. Some of my best finds have been in sections that weren't meant for me."
Watch Macklemore's official video for "Thrift Shop," above. Do you like the fun-loving single? Weigh in below.