Nice-guy rapper finishes on top of Pinoy fans’ list | Inquirer Entertainment

Nice-guy rapper finishes on top of Pinoy fans’ list

By: - Reporter
/ 01:47 AM March 19, 2014

HE HAS BEEN here before, and now Macklemore “can’t wait to be back.” Manila is the 2014 tour’s “most awesome” stop, he says.

When he was 19, Seattle native Ben Haggerty spent some time in Manila. He wasn’t in school, so he “decided to travel.” Little did he expect that, more than 10 years later, he would find himself in the Philippine capital once again—this time, as a four-time Grammy Award-winning pop-rap artist. And, this time, sporting the name Macklemore.

“I never imagined I would be  back here playing in front of thousands of people. For the [Macklemore and Ryan Lewis 2014 World Tour], this was one of the gigs I was looking forward to the most,” he told the riveted throng of young fans inside SM Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.


He could have spat out that same spiel at every concert stop. But Macklemore, as anyone would expect of someone who makes a living out of weaving images and rhymes together, truly has a way with words. He talked in an exuberant, engaging singsong that made his listeners feel like they were, indeed, the most “awesome,” a word freely tossed around the whole evening.


THE STAGE production involves frenetic lights, a screen that flashes lyrics and random visuals, intermittent bursts of smoke and flames, and, near the end, glittering confetti. INQSnap this page for more photos and a video!

Stoking the crowd, Macklemore bellowed, “Who’s ready to party with us?” And everyone started to dance till the ceiling couldn’t hold them.

With his long-time collaborator and coheadliner, music and video producer Ryan Lewis, Macklemore kicked off the electrifying gig with “Ten Thousand Hours,” a song that encapsulates the hard work he put into honing his craft and the maelstrom of emotions that he grappled with on the road to success. “Ten thousand hours/I’m so damn close I can taste it.”

Also the first track of the hip-hop duo’s best-selling album “The Heist,” the enthralling opener was preceded by a drawn-out intro from the snazzy and proficient live band whose members tirelessly moved to the thumping beats.


Funky swagger

The blend of steady, driving percussion, silky whimper of strings and funky swagger of brass made for a bouncy, carnival-like cocktail of sounds—a recurring mood throughout— that had everyone dancing, arms held up.


Macklemore said he and Lewis would be in Manila for three more days and pointed out that the arena was connected to a huge mall “with lots of stores.” For the fans, the word “mall” was enough to figure out what the chatter was leading to.

“There are a lot of things I want to do in the next few days [and] I really want to know if you guys could probably take me to…” And he screamed the the next three words: “The ‘Thrift Shop!’” The diehards— and few weren’t—proceeded to hop and bop to the hit song’s infectious horn loop and hook.

Of course, Macklemore is not spared from critics who label his music “rap for people who don’t like rap.” There’s a ring of truth to that; sound- and production-wise, a lot of the songs were more glossy than gritty, bereft of the sense of danger that is a trademark of hip-hop.

But underneath the polished exterior, most of Macklemore’s songs do have dark undertones, especially those that hew closest to home, like “Otherside,” which he performed a cappella, and “Starting Over,” which is about battles fought with his inner demons and struggles with substance abuse.

Strongest draw

Unblinkingly, he told the crowd, “Drinking, using drugs … I didn’t have control. I went to rehab in 2008 and got sober. I got out broke and had to move back in with my parents, which wasn’t cool. But then I started to make music with Ryan…”

“If I can be an example of being sober/ Then I can be an example of starting over.”

Perhaps Macklemore’s strongest draw is his nice-guy rapper persona. He doesn’t pay homage to material excess prevalent in mainstream hip-hop. Instead, he tells stories of triumph and imparts messages that inspire. Consequently, quite a few numbers sounded like confessional poetry, or unabashed exercises in self-scrutiny.

He called for equality in introducing the poignant “Same Love”:

“I believe that, as human beings, we’re slowly starting to evolve—we are more tolerant, more understanding, and we have more capacity to be compassionate. The very fabric that makes me the person that I am believes that no government, state, institution, religion or human being on this earth can tell you who to love.”

Macklemore’s impassioned words elicited a fervent sing-along, with audience members waving their hands in the air, chorusing from the song, “Love is patient, love is kind.”

Near preachy

At times his spiels came close to preachy but Macklemore no doubt succeeded in demonstrated power as a performer, especially in the pulsating fun numbers matched by fantastic stage work that involved frenetic lights, a screen that flashed lyrics and random visuals, intermittent bursts of smoke and flames, and, near the end, thick confetti.

RYAN Lewis, “the foundation of everything” Photos by Jilson Seckler Tiu

Tackling “Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore pumped his fists and flailed about the stage, as if drowning in the music. Summoning his goofy side, he changed into a charro outfit for “White Walls.” And then— in a blond mullet wig and sparkly cape—he danced himself silly in “And We Danced,” with a bevy of fabulous backups. Roars of approval met “Irish Celebration,” with a dancer parading a Philippine flag instead of the Tricolor.

Crowd pleaser

Jam of the night was the throbbing, whipping “Can’t Hold Us,” which instantly turned the venue into a massive dance hall. It was such a crowd pleaser that, to conclude the party, Macklemore dished it out a second time—this time wilder, with the charismatic guru… crowd surfing!

Finally, thanking his entire crew, particularly Lewis, “the foundation of everything,” Macklemore bid the crowd goodbye but not before declaring, “I can’t wait to be back!”

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As far as we could see, neither can his faithful in Manila.

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TAGS: Concert Review, Grammy Award, Macklemore, music review, Ryan Lewis

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