Although the meteoric rise of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis can, in many ways, be attributed to YouTube and the viral nature of their single and video “Thrift Shop,” leading VMA nominee Macklemore admitted in a recent interview that he’s happy that the Web didn’t exist as it does now when he was coming up.
In the past, Macklemore has spoken in glowing terms about YouTube — where “Thrift Shop” has been viewed hundreds of millions of times — to MTV News: “YouTube has played this role in terms of the modern music video that you don’t have to have the man behind you pushing the music and dumping a million dollars into a Hype Williams [directed] video in order to be successful,” he said of the video, which was decidedly low-budget, yet still captured the attention of the public at large, as well as the Video Music Awards.
Thanks to its massive success, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis lead this year’s nominees with six nods at Sunday’s show, airing live from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
On a recent appearance on live interview show “CRWN” with Elliott Wilson, however, the six-time VMA nominee explained how when he first started rapping at age 14, YouTube could have destroyed his career.
“I didn’t really know that my voice sounded like a chipmunk when I was 15 years old,” the Seattle rapper said. “I thought I was dope. If YouTube had been around, I would have got shat on back then.”
Not one to mimic the flow of others, it took Macklemore a while to find his sound — one that would be worthy of Internet stardom — a journey that was also hindered by his long struggle with drugs and alcohol. In the years that he was coming up, the rapper told Wilson, Macklemore’s life was a patchwork of productivity and partying — a cycle that came to a head after a stint in rehab.
At that point, around 2008 or 2009, the rapper hooked up with Ryan Lewis, working on music that would kickstart his comeback: The VS. EP, which dropped in 2009. The rest, as they say, is history.
“People aren’t given the chance to grow up,” Macklemore said of his slow rise. “They aren’t given the chance to be humans and make mistakes and learn.”
“I’m here,” he added. “If I had had this level of success at 22 I don’t if I would be here.”