Macklemore surprises music world with nontraditional rap

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Robert Sweeney

Macklemore performs on Oct. 26 at the Observatory in Santa Ana, CA to a sold-out crowd.

Robert Sweeney, staff writer

When many think of hip-hop, images of drugs, money, women and the ‘hood’ come to mind. Since its beginning, rap has morphed from a style of self-expression to simply rambling about who’s the ‘most thug’, or who drives the Lamborghini Murciélago. Hard to believe one who raps about gay rights, drug abuse and a deceased sports broadcaster could fit in with the hip-hop game.

Ben Haggerty, better known by his stage name Macklemore, raps with a demeanor unlike any other. Along with his producer Ryan Lewis, the duo set records unimaginable to the most loyal of his fans.

In today’s music world, every successful artist sings for a record label. Ben finds a flaw in this statement.

As an independent rapper, Macklemore’s newest album “The Heist” topped the iTunes album charts just hours after its availability to download. A month after its release, the album has already sold over 78,000 copies.

His diversity is what many fans adore about him.

“He raps about what he believes in,” sophomore Raya Klooster said. “He speaks through his music.”

Much of the rapper’s success is due to his hit single “Thrift Shop,” which peaked at number 20 on iTunes just days after its release. The song’s moral is to buy cheap clothing to save money, contrasting the typical hip-hop approach of spending absurd amounts of money on luxurious apparel.

“My favorite Macklemore song is Thrift Shop,” senior Maddie Davis said. “It’s has catchy lyrics and it makes me want to go to a thrift store.”

Haggerty’s fame hasn’t come easy. His first EP, “The Language of my World”, debuted in 2005 but was unrecognized in the music community. He would spend the next four years coping with his addiction to OxyContin.

His song “Otherside,” a sample of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, accounts for his depression during his addiction, and how others can overcome their substance abuse.

Since his sobriety, Ben and Ryan have exceeded expectations. All shows but two on their 2012 “The Heist” tour sold out, with many cities even having to switch to larger venues.

His song “Same Love” in support of gay equality, swayed Washington voters to pass gay marriage in the state. “Wing$” exploits the over-consumption of Nike and discusses how adolescents give in to the commercialism.

Macklemore is on the brink of stardom. As his fame grows, many will realize the relevance of his work. He is revolutionizing the hip-hop game as we know it.