Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are one of the hottest musical duos of the moment. Before they headline a sold-out concert Friday at the University of Idaho 360 looks at where they’ve been:(1) Macklemore grew up Ben Haggerty on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Macklemore was the name of a superhero Haggerty invented for a high school art project while attending Nathan Hale High School.
(2) After earning a bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College, Haggerty took a job at the juvenile detention facility in Chehalis, Wash., where he worked with kids through music rehabilitation.
(3) Haggerty has struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol. After getting clean in 2008, he became a creative unit with Lewis who acts as music director and producer.
(4) Haggerty loves his hometown. His 2010 song “The Town” is a love letter to Seattle hip-hop. In “My Oh My” Haggerty raps about the Mariners in 1995, honoring longtime Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus.
(5) In indie spirit, Haggerty and Lewis shun big labels and release all their music themselves via a self-run label. Their music videos, T-shirts and posters are produced in-house. They’ve built their fan base and fortune through social media, Kickstarter, YouTube videos and iTunes.
“These days, there’s two different ways bands blow up,” Haggerty told the Seattle Times in 2011. “One of those, is they make a piece of work that the critics jump on right away … and that takes it to the next level very quickly. And then there’s another way, which is organically, spreading amongst the youth. To the point where those tastemakers can’t help but notice, ‘Hey, he’s selling out shows all over the place. Something’s happening here.’ ”
(6) It was the first time in more than 20 years a Seattle artist hit No. 1, when “Thrift Shop” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis left Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift in their wake. They followed in the footsteps of Sir Mix a Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back.” Nirvana never had a No. 1 song.
(7) David Bowie’s “Magic Dance,” from the soundtrack of “Labyrinth;” and “Posse on Broadway” by Sir Mix-a-Lot; were two of the songs Haggerty listed among his favorites for “Rolling Stone” in February.
(8) According to iTunes, Macklemore & Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” is the No. 2 downloaded song for the week ending April 23.
(9) On April 26, Haggerty blogged about how visiting a college-age fan who was recently diagnosed with leukemia helped him get perspective on his raging life:
“Being a rapper is one of the most narcissistic careers in the world,” he wrote. “You are surrounded by yourself: interviews, Twitter, Facebook, Billboard charts, YouTube plays, shows, the crowds, awards etc. Fame suffocates the spirit and consumes you if you let it. You wake up thinking about you, and go to bed thinking about you. That’s not a good place to be. With over 200 shows booked for the year, I barely get to see my family and spend time with the people that remind me where I come from and what’s really important.”
(Sources: Rolling Stone, Seattle Times, seattlepi.com, macklemore.com)
What: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: University of Idaho Kibbie Dome
Of Note: Public tickets are sold out. There will be 500 more free tickets released for UI students with ID starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the ticket booth at the west end of the Kibbie Dome. Doors open at 7 p.m.