Just a little disclaimer here before I proceed with this article. I will be focusing primarily on Macklemore and not also on his partner in music, producer Ryan Lewis. This is a piece about Macklemore and not on the duo of “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.”
Let’s get started. By now almost every music aficionado, young and old, has heard of Macklemore and has some idea of who he is. This, thanks largely to social media and of course to the duo’s hugely popular single “Thrift Shop” which was released a while back and has garnered, to date, more than 400 million views on YouTube! This astounding feat put Macklemore’s name instantly on the map as a new Hip-Hop artist to watch out for. Suddenly, hearing his music being played has become an everyday thing.
Since when has an artist who has devoted fourteen years to writing, promoting, producing his own material, and performing anywhere and everywhere he possibly could, be viewed as an overnight sensation ? Truth be told, Macklemore’s fame is a result of old-fashioned hard work–putting in the time to perfect one’s craft and sticking with what you believe you do best. Any way you look at it, this is a “feel good” story and a prime example of homegrown success that struggling artists are hoping to happen for them too one day!
Macklemore has succeeded in helping put back his home state of Seattle on the map when it comes to Hip-Hop. Seattle was never really known to be a hotbed for Hip-Hop artists but because of the rise of Macklemore, this has made record label executives re-think that notion. Macklemore is further proof that the ever growing influence of Hip-Hop can reach any state. He is now considered to be one of the leaders of the growing Hip-Hop movement in Seattle.
Success is not only measured in the number of YouTube views but more importantly, in the recognitions and awards received. And while Macklemore has been given a number of awards already from a handful of music award giving bodies, for me, the most significant ones he has received was in the 2013 MTV VMA’s. Macklemore was able to take home three moonmen for all his efforts in his debut album ‘The Heist.’
Aside from collecting awards, Macklemore—whose real name is Ben Haggerty—has appeared on the covers of magazines like XXL. And just recently, on Rolling Stone. You know you
have made it to the “big leagues” when you are chosen to grace the cover of inarguably, the music magazine of all magazines! Which is Rolling Stone.
Despite all his impressive accomplishments and his present growing popularity, interestingly enough, Macklemore early on his career experienced being rejected from major record labels. And now that he is famous and has gotten rich by his own efforts, ironically most of the major record labels that once had declined to sign him are the ones chasing after him for a record deal.
Looking back to those days of rejections, Macklemore was unmoved with the later offers he got from most of these major record labels that didn’t give him then the time or day to even listen to any of his demos he would submit to them. He realized that if he couldn’t get the support he needed to get his music across, then he had to do it on his own. That is what he did. It paid off for him years later. That is his own winning formula.
In closing, there really is a positive message behind Macklemore’s rise to fame. No one should ever underestimate the inner drive and desire of an indie artist to break through “both barriers” and to become as successful in the mainstream scene as Macklemore was in the indie scene.
Macklemore is the living proof that an artist can make it to the big stage without any major label support!