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A grassroots success, Seattle rapper Macklemore not only climbed to number two on the Billboard 200 album charts, but with little mainstream help: his 2012 sophomore release debuted with only Mumford & Sons in his way for the number one spot. Born Ben Haggerty and raised in Seattle, he debuted as Professor Macklemore in 2000 with the Open Your Eyes EP. Five years later his debut album, The Language of My World, earned him a local following, but it was his 2010 team-up with DJ/producer Ryan Lewis for the Vs. Redux EP that yielded the Red Hot Chili Peppers-sampling hit "Otherside." With Macklemore's wit meeting Lewis' inventive production, further hits like "My Oh My" and "Can't Hold Us" were spread throughout social media and video-sharing sites, setting the stage for a successful debut for the duo. That came in 2012 when The Heist arrived as a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis release, debuting at the number two spot on the Billboard 200. Its single "Thrift Shop" topped the Billboard Hot 100, and the album eventually reached diamond sales status. The duo performed another one of the album's singles, "Same Love," at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards during a marriage ceremony for over 30 couples. That night, the pair took the awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance.
In 2015, Macklemore & Lewis returned with "Downtown," which featured rap icons Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, and Kool Moe Dee alongside Foxy Shazam vocalist Eric Nally. The platinum-certified single would be the first from their second collaborative effort, This Unruly Mess I've Made. The 2016 album also featured "Kevin," "White Privilege II," and "Dance Off." Once promotion ended for the set, the duo began an extended hiatus.
At the end of 2021, Macklemore and Lewis surprised fans with a humorous short video that hinted at a long overdue reunion. Soon after, they released "Next Year" featuring vocalist Windser. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & David Jeffries