In case you haven’t been in tune with pop culture at all in the past year, independent hip-hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are kind of a big thing. With chart-topping singles off their latest album “The Heist”, they’ve managed to accomplish not only levels of success that few artists have, but have done it without a major record label.
Macklemore (whose real name is Ben Haggerty) definitely goes against the grain in the traditional rap world in other ways as well, such as his anti-discrimination song “Same Love” that supports acceptance and equality rather than being homophobic. He also has been very open about his past problems with substance abuse, stating that he went to a treatment program in 2008 and then picked himself back up after a relapse in 2011.
In his recent special on E!, “Macklemore’s Big Surprise,” Ben spoke candidly about how some artists claim that drugs and alcohol expand their creative abilities, but that he didn’t see that way. He’s mentioned numerous times that they were the exact opposite for him and it was only in his sobriety that he found success – and love.
This is a powerful message when much of today’s hip-hop lyrics are dominated with references to getting drunk or high. What may be the most broadly appealing aspect of his message though isn’t that he’s taken on a crusade or tried to force that on others, simply that he gives his position and allows people to make their own choices.
While his platform is his art and not any particular cause, we salute him in his journey, wish him well in his continued sobriety and thank him for encouraging others as well – even if it is only done with subtlety.