What Happened To Macklemore?
Remember when in 2012, Seattle rapper Macklemore was actually growing to become one of hip-hop’s next rising stars; thanks to his single “Thrift Shop?” That’s when hip-hop and pop music was reaching another turn in the era and newer acts like Macklemore were embraced for their unique sound and personality.
Naturally grouped in with the other white rappers like Lil Dicky and Eminem, Macklemore was once seen as the next face of white rappers to etch their mark in hip-hop history. Then a few years later, the momentum died down, and people like Post Malone and Jack Harlow took the crown as the new face; leaving Macklemore to vanish from the history books almost as fast as when he first appeared. What happened to him? And what has he been doing this whole time?
Macklemore was born Benjamin Hammond Haggerty on June 19th 1983 in Seattle Washington. He first started listening to rap at the age of 6 years old and has cited the famous rap collective, Digital Underground as one of the first hip-hop acts he was ever introduced to. At age 15 he began to write lyrics and also learn how to sing; all while listening to a lot of East Coast underground hip hop like Hieroglyphics, Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Nas, and Talib Kweli.
In 2000, Macklemore recorded his first mixtape, Open Your Eyes, under the name Professor Macklemore and distributed it independently later that year. He then changed his name to just “Macklemore” and began to work on his first full-length album, The Language Of My World, which he later released in 2005.
Then in 2006, Macklemore met producer and beatmaker Ryan Lewis. The two spent the next few years trying to work on Macklemore’s promotion as a solo artist; with Lewis working as Macklemore’s photographer. The two became good friends and began working on music together for the next three years before Macklemore stepped out again in 2009 with his second mixtape, The Unplanned Mixtape. After that, Lewis and Macklemore came up with a bright idea.
Following in the footsteps of past hip-hop duos like Gangstarr (which consisted of New York rapper Guru and his partner, famous producer DJ Premier), Macklemore & Lewis formed their own group; aptly named Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The group released its first EP, The Vs., later that year and then continued to release several singles including, ” Stay-At-Home Dad,” “Wings,” and “Can’t Hold Us,” between 2010 and 2012.
Then in 2012, the group released the album that finally put them in the national limelight: The Heist. The album went on to debut at number 2 on the US Billboard 200 and included several singles including, “Same Love,” “White Walls,” and the smash hit, “Thrift Shop.” The feat was quite impressive for a pair of independent artists with barely any promotion and soon the duo was getting offers from everywhere.
However, according to Suggest, the two were concerned about their creative control and profits; leading them to become hesitant in pursuing a traditional record deal. So instead, Macklemore and Lewis decided to approach the Alternative Distribution Alliance–which is an independent arm of the Warner Music Group– and signed a deal that allowed them to trade a small percentage of the royalties for some major label benefits like radio promotion.
Through this partnership, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were able to retain their status as independent artists while expanding their reach to the general public. Thanks to that, singles from The Heist like “Thrift Shop” managed to get decent promotion to alternative and pop radio stations, instantly catapulting the musicians to fame.
From 2012 to 2015, Macklemore collaborated with several artists including Ed Sheeran, Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, and Grandmaster Caz; while at the same time touring with Lewis. Then in 2016, Macklemore released his third album, The Unruly Mess I’ve Made; which boosted the singles, “White Privilege II,” “Drug Dealer,” and “Wednesday Morning.” Unfortunately, the album didn’t receive quite the same reception as its predecessor, The Heist; which some fans say was the cause for Macklemore announcing on his Instagram that he and his musical partner, Lewis were on hiatus in 2017.
That same year, Macklemore released the record, “Glorious”, with singer (and frequent Eminem collaborator), Skylar Grey as the lead single of his fourth album, Gemini. Later in 2017, he released the single, “Marmalade” featuring Lil Yachty to promote his collaboration album, Good Old Days, with singer Kesha. Then in 2018, Macklemore and Kesha went on tour for the collaborative effort; which was named The Adventures Of Kesha and Macklemore. After that, Macklemore kind of retreated into the shadows and was rarely seen in the industry. So what happened to him and Lewis? Did something go wrong? And what has he been doing since we last saw him in 2018?
Why Did Macklemore And Ryan Lewis Stop Working Together?
After the flop of their 2016 album, The Unruly Mess I’ve Made, Macklemore and Lewis seemed to get quiet on the music front. After Macklemore announced the group’s split in 2017, rumors swirled that there may have been some bad blood between them due to the failure of their last album. However, Macklemore later expounded on the group’s separation during his promotion for his album Gemini:
“It was a decision that we both came to,” the rapper said in an interview on Sway in the Morning. “I think with the last album and how intense it was at times — particularly making ‘White Privilege II’ [on This Unruly Mess I’ve Made], that was an intense, as it should have been, song to write … I think it was really heavy to make a nine-minute song about race. And again, it should be heavy. You can’t even scrape the surface on it”
However, despite no longer working together, Macklemore claims that he and Lewis have remained close friends this entire time.
What Has Macklemore Been Doing Since 2018?
Well, it seems Macklemore has been focused on being a family man for the most part. The now 38-year-old has been married to his longtime partner, Tricia Davis, since 2013. The couple had their eldest daughter, Sloane, in 2015, and their second daughter in 2018. Even more recently, Macklemore and his wife welcomed their first son, Hugo, sometime in 2021.
Not only that, but Macklemore has also created a line of golf clothes called Bogey Boys, meant to modernize your traditional golfing gear, that uses bold colors and prints for unique golfing clothing like a tartan windbreaker or a soft pink cardigan. Outside of that, Macklemore has continued to focus on activism. His website has a whole area dedicated to his social justice causes and Black-led organizations that focus on racial and social justice issues.
So, yeah…Macklemore has been kind of busy, to say the least.
That’s not to say he’s not working on new music. After Donald Trump’s defeat at the last Presidential election, Macklemore dropped off a freestyle commemorating the occasion.
He also posted a cryptic (yet adorable) video with his daughter that hints that there may be new music on the horizon.
But so far, there hasn’t been any word on if the rapper plans to release another album. With 2022 around the corner, and a slew of past artists returning with new projects, there’s a good chance we may see something from Macklemore soon. Until then, all of you Macklemore fans have no choice but to stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed.