Macklemore Reflects On The Challenges of His “Thrift Shop” Era


The Grammy winner says it was a “dark” period in his life.

Over a decade ago, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis churned out hit after hit. For example, the now-Diamond-certified “Thrift Shop” featuring Wanz spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The chart-topping “Can’t Hold Us” featuring Ray Dalton also earned a Diamond Award (10 million units) from the RIAA. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won three Grammys in 2014, including an award for Best Rap Album for The Heist.

However, that Grammy win came at a price. Many Hip Hop fans and pundits expressed frustration that The Heist won Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Macklemore’s career suffered as a result.

Apple Music’s Zane Lowe recently interviewed Macklemore (born Benjamin Haggert) as promotion for his upcoming Ben album. The interview also included the 39-year-old rapper reflecting on the time period when “Thrift Shop” became a success.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Only Charted On The Hot 100 Once After 2013

“Yeah, it was dark. It was a dark, very challenging era. That era was tough, man. It was all the criticism, all the expectations, all the accolades, all the love, all the hate, everything at once. And I spent my entire life being an underground rapper. All of a sudden that changed,” stated Macklemore.

He continued, “And there was an era in that period where it was like, ‘Wait, hold on. You guys remember what I’ve done? You guys remember where I came from?’ And it was like, ‘No, my little sister likes your music now. This is wack.’ And in that moment, it was really intense.”

The Seattle native never made it onto the Hot 100 chart before “Thrift Shop” in 2012. “Downtown” is the only Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song to chart since 2013. Mack did score Hot 100 entries as a soloist with “Good Old Days” in 2017, “Glorious” in 2017, and “Summer Days” in 2019.

Macklemore Struggles With Mental Health Issues & Addiction

“You’re up for judgment from the world, and no one tells you how to handle that. And here we are at the top of the world and I have no idea what the f### I am doing. And you don’t say. ‘No.’ You just say, ‘Yes.’ You do the next show. There’s another bag to chase. There’s another cover, there’s whatever,” Macklemore told Lowe.

He added, “And you’re just going and you’re not stopping. And as that’s happening, as you’re not sleeping, as your mental health, as relapses happening, as I’m trying to hide, that all of that’s happening, the rest of the world is talking about you and it was a dark period. It’s like, okay, you work your entire life for this moment. Now you got the ball. What are you going to do? Do not go out of bounds. Do not call a timeout. There is no two-minute warning. You’re just going to go. And that’s what we did.”

Macklemore will release Ben on Friday, March 3. The studio LP joins a catalog that contains The Language of My World from 2005 and Gemini from 2017. Additionally, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis dropped This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. That 2016 project hosted “Downtown” featuring Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, and Grandmaster Caz.