Fresh from their Grammy wins: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis coming to Manila
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - If you ask Ryan Lewis, one-half of the American hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on what could be as strong as their musical bond, he’d say it’s the friendship outside the creative working environment they’re always in. 

In a response to a question from The STAR during a brief tele-con with the DJ-producer ahead of their Manila concert on March 16 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena, Ryan said of Macklemore: “He’s my best friend.”

Working with Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty), he said is “one of the best environments that we’re together for sure.” Case in point: Their professional partnership recently scored big at the Grammys with the Best New Artist award plus a sweep of the rap categories, namely, Best Rap Song for Thrift Shop, Best Rap Performance for Thrift Shop and Best Rap Album for The Heist.  

And, “you know, I think a hip-hop duo in 2014 is unique to begin with. They barely exist anymore. Fifteen years ago, they were more common. I just think there are so many benefits (for artists) who work consistently with a single producer. I think I have five years of experience hearing Ben’s song ideas and recording him. On the flipside, Ben has five years of hearing the beats that I’ve made and seeing what I’m capable of doing.”

According to media backgrounders, Ryan, 25, met Macklemore, 30, around 2006, with the former starting out doing photography work for the rapper. Macklemore was already making a name for himself, as this white dude putting out, as some pundits described, “socially-aware” hip-hop music independently. Five years ago, they started spending time in the recording studio, eventually leading to the release of The Heist (their debut record as an official duo) in late 2012, which charted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, followed by massive hit singles Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us, both of which made history for the tandem as these songs went all the way to No. 1 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart minus a major recording label backing them. Three well-deserved Grammys later to vindicate their hard work (not without courting some controversy though, but that’s another story), Ryan said that it’s their friendship that’s also holding them together as they deal with the good and even the bad of more fame and success. 

“We’ve made a dynamic that is hard to replace overnight. It comes with time. It comes from trial and error. It comes from massive successes you can only dream of, and (having) failed as well. I think when you’ve experienced all that with somebody, it’s just a bond that is pretty irreplaceable in a creative environment. Outside the creative environment, that bond exists as well and to be honest with you, we are really good friends,” Ryan said.

“You have someone who has a lot of wisdom, and has been a good friend,” he added, referring to Macklemore, “and I think our relationship remains equally strong and just going through day-to-day life, especially in getting famous and life completely flipping on its ass, you’re trying to kind of hang on with everything that’s happening... It’s pretty vital to have him around. It’s very healthy.”

Filipino fans will be seeing more of this “bond” onstage as Macklemore and Ryan bring their music here with a show come March 16 at the MOA Arena to be presented by Concertus Manila and Wize & Ope. According to reviews, part of the duo’s “appeal is their innovation and reliance on ideas and lyrics that go against much of hip-hop’s traditional swagger.”

Then it will be back to the creative process. “But no pressure,” said Ryan, “just getting back on to the creative (mindset) and writing every day.” He further said that they draw ideas from all over the place. “We spend a long time trying to actualize it.”

He’s also exploring a “variety of beats one of which will hopefully go to the next album… I got home off the road around Christmas for the most part and has just been slowly opening a can of worms as to what next project might sound.” 

He also spoke about tapping an orchestra, a choir, a drummer, “generally speaking, I’m starting to open (up) to new music.”

Ryan was also made to comment on the fuss (reportedly stirred by “rap purists”) following their Grammy wins, particularly the Best Rap Album, plus Macklemore’s “controversial” instagrammed post addressing fellow Grammy nominee and recent Manila visitor Kendrick Lamar: “You got robbed. I wanted you to win.”

According to, Lamar already positively responded and was quoted as saying in an interview that Macklemore’s (as well as Ryan’s) win is “well-deserved; he did what he did, man.”

Ryan said, “(About the) Grammy situation, I think very plain and simple, we made an album we’re super proud of and which resonated with hundred thousands of people. But we’re also a huge fan of Kendrick Lamar. We just acknowledged that we love (Kendrick’s) album.”

(Tickets to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ concert are available at all SM Tickets outlets, and online at or call 470-222. Tickets prices are: Moshpit, P 5940; Patron, P 4770; VIP Standing, P 3180; Lower Box A, P 3500, Lower Box B, 2650. For details, call Concertus Manila at 403-8678.)

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