With reporting by Adam Fleischer
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Downtown” single - which was released today - may sound like a blending of different worlds. That’s because it was influenced by genres and eras.
"I was listening to Backspin on XM Radio and hearing these older rappers' cadences and vocal tones and I was like, 'This is so dope, nobody’s doing this anymore,’” Macklemore told MTV News during an exclusive interview recently. "Ryan was like, ‘Yo, you gotta flip something like that for the new album. People aren’t doing these old school type cadences.' And so I messed around with that a little bit.”
Early rap greats also made a mark in the video thanks to Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee and Melle Mel cameos. But, hip-hop was just one of the inspirations for the track.
"We were also listening to a lot of Queen and a lot of music from the '70s and it was, ‘How could we kind of merge these two worlds, these two very different worlds, in a way that seamlessly worked, that were obviously different, but could live on the same record?’” Macklemore added. "Like, ‘Is that even possible?’”
In the end, the duo was happy with “Downtown,” which they described as "super old school hip hop" and "very theatrical and dynamic.”
Now we’ll wait to see what they have in mind for the Video Music Awards. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are set to perform this single for the first time ever at the VMAs this Sunday.