Macklemore introduces music world to Seattle rap

Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, is leading the drive to put the Seattle hip-hop scene on the map.

Tucked away in the northwest corner of the country, Seattle is known more for its annual level of rainfall than for its burgeoning hip-hop scene.

Moving on up · Seattle rapper Macklemore (left) says the inspiration for his tracks comes simply from taking in all of his surroundings. - Photo courtesy of Zach Quillen

But Macklemore’s upcoming tour strives to bring him to the attention of hip-hop fans nationwide and change the stereotypical image of rainy Seattle.

“I was born and raised in Seattle, I’ve spent the majority of my life here and I’m extremely proud of where I come from,” Macklemore said. “There’s a unique authenticity to our city and it’s one that, on a national level in terms of hip-hop music, has never been fully exposed. The reason why I am the way that I am and [write] the music that I write is because of Seattle.”

After overcoming issues with substance abuse that began in 2006, Macklemore appeared again on hip-hop’s radar in 2009 when he released a mixtape in collaboration with DJ Ryan Lewis.

The mixtape featured samples from several famous groups, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Killers.

But Macklemore doesn’t just take samples from mainstream artists. At only 14 years old, he started the hip-hop group Elevated Elements before shifting to a solo career. And now, at only 28 years old, his booked shows prove that he is moving up in the ranks of the music world.

From his beginnings in the music industry, Macklemore has clearly strived to create tracks that echo home and everything he has experienced.

“Inspiration comes from anything,” Macklemore said. “Inspiration is everywhere, it’s just that we are not in tune with our surroundings enough … when we can quiet the mind and calm it down and tap into what’s right in front of us, there’s always a song there.”

He has a habit of creating music that raises the hair on your arms. His uplifting lyrics about life’s struggles paired with head- bumping beats inspire and heal.

What makes his music so genuine is that Macklemore speaks from experience.

“Whatever happens, I have to be okay with it … the challenge is learning to accept it and yet striving to make things happen the way you can envision them,” Macklemore said.

Macklemore is a rare breed of lyricist in today’s mostly self-righteous music industry, and it is his honesty in songwriting that makes him stand out.

His ability to observe and process everything that comes his way humbles him, something the listener can feel in his music.

Macklemore’s songs are less about creating catchy tunes and more about sincerely looking at life’s complexities.

“We go through life trying to hold onto things and we have these expectations,” Macklemore said. “We’re trying to navigate life thinking we’re in control … but there’s always going to be things that are completely out of our control and the minute you can learn to accept those things life becomes more fulfilling.”

Macklemore is currently on tour across the country and will stop in Los Angeles tonight to play a show at the Viper Room.

“I hope that we can get out on the road and we can connect with fans that have been supporting the music, or maybe they just found out about us or maybe they’ve never heard of us,” Macklemore said.

Macklemore’s music is equal parts spontaneity and calculated precision. His use of cadence, emphasis, lyrical content and undeniable love for what he does combine to produce the perfect blend of hip-hop.

If he can create this effect through a pair of headphones, it will be exciting to see what he can do on stage.

“I don’t think there’s a formula,” Macklemore said. “I just know what works for me and what works for me is listening to a beat that inspires me or having an experience that fuels the writing.”

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