This is Macklemore (rapper) and Ryan Lewis (producer). Our debut full-length album The Heist is dropping on iTunes at 9 PM West Coast! We got asked by fans to do an AMA and so here we are, ready to answer any questions you have. Lets talk!

Comments: 4334 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

MacklemoreRyanLewis2170 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis1600 karma

THIS IS FUCKING UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!! I am literally tripping out right now. Just got off the phone with my mom and dad. I'm so happy right now. THANK YOU to everyone that has supported us. This is one of the best nights of my life

zieberry1587 karma

Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

MacklemoreRyanLewis1713 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis773 karma

The Heist is #2 on all of iTunes! WOWWWWW!

MacklemoreRyanLewis760 karma

MY PEOPLE! This was very dope. Tons of great questions. We got to as many as we could tonight. I NEED TO EAT AND CELEBRATE WITH MY LADY!!!! This night is fucking aawesome. So is Reddit. Love you guys! #TheHeist


itzadub526 karma

How was the name "Shark Face Gang" created?

MacklemoreRyanLewis852 karma


It was cold, dark and stormy afternoon in the middle of California sometime in 2010. Our tour van was cruising down the freeway at roughly 70 mph and I had the idea…This shit would be a lot less depressing if we had a gang. BAM! That was the magic moment.

Let me back track. I’ve always loved sharks. Great White Sharks in particular, but really all sharks. Tiger sharks, Hammer Deads, Dolphins. All that shit. Probably my favorite animal that hangs out in water.

So there it was. I wanted our music to have an animal. Something the people could represent. That defined our sound and the people that supported it. BIG bold letter lit up in my head and spelled out SHARK FACE GANG. I tweeted it.

Next thing you know there were kids coming to the shows with homemade #SHARKFACEGANG t-shirts. That’s what made it official. The fans really solidified it.

We have no choice but to represent this till the death.


kisorp311 karma

dolphins = sharks?

MacklemoreRyanLewis1507 karma

They are close homies

re-re-Remix414 karma

who would you love to collaborate with? maybe childish gambino? would love it. see you soon in lansing.

MacklemoreRyanLewis1168 karma

Kanye. Sufjan Stevens. Yann Tiersen. Beirut.

MacklemoreRyanLewis539 karma

Macklemore: I'd love to do a record with Kanye. Kendrick Lamar. A$AP Rocky. Those are some that come to mind.

Novel_Tie314 karma

Will you acknowledge my existence?

MacklemoreRyanLewis528 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis309 karma


Iamnotkumar306 karma

Where'd you get those onesies?

MacklemoreRyanLewis734 karma


VinSwift296 karma

If you could have one song of yours go really big, a real hit that everyone in America heard, which one would you pick? Why?

MacklemoreRyanLewis1399 karma

Same Love. Out of all the songs on our album, it addresses one of the most important issues in society right now.

MacklemoreRyanLewis287 karma

Favorite song on The Heist?

gbro212 karma

206 represent! Got that skyline etched in my veins. Please please PLEASE play My Oh My everywhere you go. Such a powerful song and even to the people out there that don't know Dave Niehaus, it's still inspiring.

MacklemoreRyanLewis187 karma

Ryan -- You already know we will!

thekid_193 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis209 karma

Thank YOU

seanxfitz191 karma

More for Ryan Lewis: What gear do you guys use in the studio? What does your vocal chain look like these days? Do you mix/master everything or do you hire someone else?

MacklemoreRyanLewis491 karma

NERD ALERT (yayyy)

My studio is not that big. When we get back from January I'm going to really nerd out and work on building a newer bigger version of what I have.

My vocal chain looks as so:

Neumann u87 > Neve 5032 Portico > SSL Alphalink AX > Pro Tools 9. Then in the mixing process on the hardware side I use an API 2500 Stereo Bus Compressor and a Tube Tech CL-1B. I also have 2 distressors and a Universal Audio LA-610.

I use Adam A7X monitors. I have a Presonus Central Station. I'm obviously on a Mac. Plug-ins wise I use WAVES, Native Instruments Komplete Bundle, SoundToys and a whole bunch of other shit.

If you have no money and wanna make unique sounding shit, my biggest secret is Guitar Rig :) Go get that.

I mix absolutely everything. I've tried hiring out other people, but mixing is one of the most subjective things in the world. I think I spent a few years mixing decent sounding records that weren't crazy in order to get to a point where you're matching/competing with industry sounding records on your own, with limited tools. Mixing's hard, and it takes FOREVER. If I ever tweet "still at the studio, shoot me in the face" - I'm probably mixing.

skh810168 karma

I went to your secret Seattle show last night and it was AMAZING!! Thank you both so much. Also, my friend Meg was wondering if you (Ryan) have a girlfriend? ;)

MacklemoreRyanLewis368 karma


Semen-Thrower160 karma

Hey guys! Just wanna say that I CAN'T WAIT for The Heist! A few questions:

  • To Macklemore: When did you decide to pursue music as your primary career? You have said that you've suffered from substance abuse, how did you fight it?

  • To Ryan Lewis: Do you come up with the background tunes all by yourself? Which one is written first, the music or the rap?


You guys create one of the few well-known rappers out there who don't discriminate and don't brag about how much money he has. All my respect is to you guys.

EDIT: By the way, here's proof

OH, I sent this an hour ago, got no response, but I actually guessed and messaged the right account. Today is a good day

MacklemoreRyanLewis241 karma

Macklemore is working on his answer.

Ryan Lewis: It's different every time. The Heist is full of songs that first originated as beats, then were wrote to. But sometimes Ben will have a concept and verses he's already put together, and my job is to create a musical canvas underneath that sets the whole tone.

I create the music. Sometimes I write parts and re-record them with real instruments. Sometimes I'll have a piece finished and an instrumentalist will come in and add there own thing if it fits. It's different every time. I make the beat, engineer Ben's vocals, engineer the instrumentalists, mix the record and work with the mastering engineer.

FlannelCollar150 karma

Hey Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, I am a big fan. I have a few questions I hope you'll answer (feel free to pick and choose, I realize there is a lot here)!

For Macklemore:

  1. You often mention being sober, what type of sobriety do you uphold? Marijuana, all drugs, alcohol, ect.?

  2. Are there any other Hip Hop scenes as vibrant as Seattle's? There's so much going on from such a variety of people, it's crazy good!

  3. Do you have any advice for an inspiring hip hop artist? I've tried to write before but everytime I do I feel like its bad and sounds corny.

  4. I know you don't like the label conscious, how would you describe yourself?

  5. What do you think of the current landscape of Rap/Hip-Hop?

  6. What was the process of being selected as an XXL freshmen like?


  1. Thoughts on Boardwalk Empire?

  2. You've wrote that you can't really read music, how does that work when you write parts for Owuor or for another instrument?

  3. I've tried to produce, but it just sounds flat. What is your advice to producing quality sounds?

  4. I really liked your work with Symmetry, do you have any plans to work with another artist soon?

  5. Would you ever try rapping?

  6. 'Pac vs Ferdinand is awesome.

MacklemoreRyanLewis408 karma


  1. 100% sobriety. No substances. I have just over 9 months.

  2. That's tough to say. So many places have unique styles of music that pop up. I'm extremely proud of Seattle and the Hip-Hop scene that it has grown into, but I can't say it's the most vibrant. I love what Big Krit and Yelawolf are doing for the south. I love what Rocky is doing for NYC. I love what ScHoolBoy Q, Kendrick and Ab Soul are doing for California. What Big Sean is doing for Detroit. Meek for Philly. Everyone that puts on for their city inspires me.

3.The biggest advice I can give anybody that is pursuing art, is be yourself. Be inspired, but never copy. Be original in thought and execute that originality. Work hard at your craft. If you want to "make it" in your field of creativity, there comes a sacrifice. When I'm in the studio my friends are out kicking it and going to shows. There's times when I wish I was out there having fun, but in the long run this is what I want. To make art, to travel, and perform these songs. Dedication is #1. Dedication to progress. AND HAVE FUN. Remember why you started. Not to become famous but because you love it.

  1. I'm a rapper. I write records that are conceptual. That are personal. I use music to find truth, and that truth starts in examining me and having an awareness to the world, the mind, the heart and how they all feed off each other.

  2. Honestly, I'm not that inspired by the hip hop music that's coming out. I'm getting kinda sick of the 70 BPM beats. They were cool like 6-12 months ago, but it's feeling really redundant. I'm excited for Kendrick and Rocky's albums. Hopefully people are in the studio working to switch it up. But I have XM radio in my car and the shit that is getting played is pretty boring to me. NO originality. And I'm a fan of music. No hate. I'm just a little blah on whats getting pushed to the masses.

  3. That was a trip. I always wanted to be on that cover. I felt so proud for my city. It was like FINALLY!!!! We did something for Seattle. That was honestly my first reaction. It was a hella exciting time. We all met at a warehouse in NYC. Everybody that was on the cover. I remember I was trying on one of my fur jackets and I turned around and French Montana had the bear head on. He killed me with that. The whole day was just interesting. Publicists, managers, stylist. And whole bunch of egos. Everybody was real cool. I mostly chopped it up with Danny Brown. That dude is hilarious

MacklemoreRyanLewis303 karma

Ryan Reply:

1 - Boardwalk Empire is one of the best shows on television right now. I put it up there with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones (2 other favorites).

2- I can't read music. I can communicate decently, find an E on the piano, but I cannot read music like a lot of the people I work with who communicate through the score. So much of what I do with musicians is explained through emotion/texture. More often than not I'll have written a piece and work on re-recording it / enhancing it live. The people I work with are brilliant and all read music, I do pretty much everything by ear.

3 - Keep going producing! Work hard and really enjoy it. After a while I think you'll get a sense of how serious you should be about it. I started off as a hobby making beats, I had been in bands before that playing guitar. I tried singing and I tried rapping, I was terrible at both. I think give something a clear shot, enjoy it, work hard at it until you can really recognize whether it's your gift or not. If it is take it to the next level, if it isn't producing is an AWESOME hobby.

  • thanks :)

burnzkid148 karma

Most of the time, there is an obvious inspiration or message for many of your songs like "Otherside" and "Wings", but where the fuck did "Thrift Shop" and "And We Danced?" come from?

MacklemoreRyanLewis295 karma

Ryan -- Both Ben and I love party music and mood music. Thrift Shop and And We Danced I think serve equal but different purposes as a Wings or Otherside. They make you feel good. Make you wanna dance and quit caring about what people think (of your lack of dancing skills) or go pop tags off a $2.99 button-up. These are things we also love about life :)

Plus I don't like just making intense or slow beats. I actually love making up tempo shit too. I love pop, I love hard beats. I think if producing with Ben didn't allow me to try a whole bunch of different shit as a producer it wouldn't be quite as fulfilling of a career. We do what we want lol

DumpTruckJester65 karma

I think you really need to explain castle as well, that is an insanely funny song.

MacklemoreRyanLewis246 karma


prophetoffun148 karma

When did you fully realize that you had hit it big?

Sorry if this question gets asked often, it's just interesting to hear everyone's story.

MacklemoreRyanLewis695 karma

When we got asked to do an AMA lol

Phlandua145 karma

Will you be my stay at home Dad?

MacklemoreRyanLewis655 karma

If you bring home the $, I will bring your yogurt and an assortment of various loafs of bread

goodbeanz122 karma

What do you prefer: nuggets, beans, or sandwiches?

MacklemoreRyanLewis334 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis290 karma


hodorhodorhodor1114 karma

Hey Ben and Ryan,

first off congratz on hitting #1 on ALL OF ITUNES! you deserve it. You guys are really inspirational.

If you had one dream place to perform, where would it be?

Looking forward to seeing you guys at First Ave, it'll be my 3rd time seeing you guys play in Minnesota

MacklemoreRyanLewis204 karma

Ryan: The Colosseum

Ben: Mainstage Coachella

TheDoctor7108 karma

If you could be any fruit, what kind of fruit would you be and why?

Serious answers only, please.

MacklemoreRyanLewis393 karma

Ryan: Banana

Ben: Black Banana

Tcoch28104 karma

What are your thoughts on Donald Glover/Childish Gambino? Would you ever work with him?

MacklemoreRyanLewis258 karma

Ryan: He's awesome. Ben and I knew him from Community long before Childish Gambino. He's a good rapper, we've spent a little time running into him at festivals. I totally would work with him. He's also fucking hilarious!

jzstyles92 karma

Favorite item you've ever got from a thrift store?

MacklemoreRyanLewis222 karma

Ryan: either my long fur jacket I got in Walla Walla. Or the brown leather jacket I wore way too often in 2012 haha. i.e. all of our press photos. GREAT jacket. Lost it :(

drewdej80 karma

What's your favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

MacklemoreRyanLewis227 karma

Ryan: Mint chocolate chip.

Ben: Peanut Butter Chocolate


First of all, thank you for doing this, you are one of my favorite artists of all time and I'm very excited for your new album coming out tomorrow! Okay, who was your inspiration to get into the music industry? Were you into music as a kid? Were you an outcast? How did you meet Ryan Lewis? Ryan, what got you into producing? Who's your favorite artist? Sorry for so many, if you could answer any of them it would be much appreciated, thanks, and keep being awesome!

MacklemoreRyanLewis131 karma

Ryan answer: I don't know if I've ever aspired to work in the music industry but I think from an early, early age music has always done something for me that nothing else could. Once your life begins to revolve around music, then the industry side of it is extremely fascinating. I was VERY into music as a kid. I played guitar, bass and a little drums. I got kicked out of the band (that i started) in middle school for taking it too seriously, haha. I got into producing music and shooting photography around the same time 15-16 years old.

Ben and I met on Myspace. He wanted a beat. From there we became good friends, I produced very little music for him for the first 3 years we knew each other - I did a lot of photography for him. Then at the end of 2008 we though we would knock out a mixtape in a couple weeks... that turned into 9 months and out popped the VS. EP.

I wasn't an outcast, but I was sorta weird. A loud A.D.D.'ish kid. I grew up in Spokane and went to school with a lot of great athletes. I wasn't great at sports, wasn't terrible. I moved to Seattle when I was 15 and that substantially changed my musical surroundings and interests.

My favorite artist was Kanye West, but I'm not the biggest fan of the phase he's going through right now. To me he's one of the greatest innovators of our generation, musically and culturally. He's influenced me a lot. Other favorite artists would be Sufjan Stevens, Beirut, older Lil Wayne, The Arcade Fire. Stuff like that.

What got me into producing... hmm. I think I'm secretly a nerd. I'm a very technical guy, I like gear and stuff that bores people. I think producing was always intriguing even back when I was 13, fucking around on bringing a 4-track into Cubase - because it's really the process of capturing and molding a sound in a certain way, and then composing a bunch of small pieces to equate to a feeling. Producing includes so many variables I think once I discovered the process I immediately wanted to master it.

nesner0s73 karma

Thank you so much for doing the AMA! What is your favorite song you have guys have ever made?

P.S. pic of me and you at soundset

MacklemoreRyanLewis86 karma

Ryan: Hmmm that is tough. For a long time I said Can't Hold Us. I originally made Can't Hold Us in 2007... I had the piano/drums and synth laid down. I showed it to Ben in maybe 2008 and we essentially saved it for the right place and time. I always felt like that massive soccer/arena anthem. When we picked it back up in 2011 Ray Dalton sealed the deal and of course the amazing instrumentalists that jumped on it as well. Owuor/Gerg Kramer's massive horn edition, Andrews violin. The group background vocals with Camila and Victoria. It became exactly what I imagined and went for and it translated so well live.

But as of an hour I ago I just put out HELLA new songs haha... from the new wave of music on the Heist, I'd probably say Starting Over or White Walls. For very different reasons.

allicat9272 karma

Not a question but I LOVE you. Like a shit ton. Seeing you in Hotlanta in November!

MacklemoreRyanLewis127 karma


wilkings64 karma

I find it impossible to believe that you guys haven't had numerous offers from major record labels - if you have, which ones sent you offers and why did you turn them down? Did Rhymesayers ever approach you? Also shoutout for the irish pride, my buddy and I were repping a huge irish flag in the audience at your toronto show at MOD Club last year

MacklemoreRyanLewis188 karma

Ryan: All the majors hit us up. We took some meetings, some were just phone calls with our manager that didn't really lead to anything sensible for us. Rhymesayers is absolutely awesome and family, but not the route we wanted to go. We definitely saw everything that was out there and realized that we wanted to stay exactly how we were, and just work ALL THE TIME haha. Our team has grown and we just stepped up to the plate to attempt to deliver something at the level that a major would, without em: The Heist.

MacklemoreRyanLewis120 karma

Ryan: Listen to Jimmy Iovine :)

kieonsegg53 karma

What has been your favourite song to perform?

MacklemoreRyanLewis159 karma

Macklemore: It's constantly changing. Can't Hold Us featuring Ray Dalton is one of the hypest songs in a live setting. Last night was my first time performing "Starting Over" and it was a very emotional experience to say the least. It's tough to say favorite, but new material is always exciting. But I love performing all of it

TheAsianThing49 karma

How did you guys meet?

MacklemoreRyanLewis133 karma


lethargicwalrus60 karma

Do you still go on myspace?

MacklemoreRyanLewis861 karma

lol, do you?

emmbers38 karma

Would you rather high five a panda or a penguin?

MacklemoreRyanLewis114 karma

Penguin.. I think

Hanistotle37 karma


MacklemoreRyanLewis109 karma


  1. I always wanted to get sober. Ever since I was 16 years old I knew that drugs and alcohol affected me differently. I had no moderation. Because of this, when I was using my connection to music completely stopped. I went through a long lull of not finishing anything after I put out The Language of my World. My dad is the one that finally approached me and offered treatment. When I finally accepted his offer to go, it was like I finally threw in the towel. I needed help and couldn't do it on my own. I got there and within the first couple days the veil that had been cast over my life lifted. When you start coming out of that fog everything is so intense and vibrant. Everything they taught me in rehab just kinda clicked. And having a support group like AA has definitely helped keep me sober. Just being around a community of folks that have your same issues.

  2. I'm not really sure how to address that yet. I definitely will. It JUST came out. I'm gonna let the song speak for itself, for at least a day or two

MacklemoreRyanLewis83 karma


  1. Lol... it was a song neither of us are too proud of called "The Club." Back in 2006 that beat was FIRE... now... hahaha.

  2. I went through a phase of hip-hop as actually a very young kid.. 6th grade. Loved DMX, Jay-Z, Pac, Master P... kind of FAMOUS hip hop. Then I got way more into indie rock up until I was maybe 16 in which I got into actual production, and discovered a wide variety of hip-hop I was intrigued by.

damitpeople35 karma

First of all thank you for doing the AMA. I was wondering when you would be announcing your tour dates or Australia, and i would love you could get Blue Scholars to come to Australia with you.

MacklemoreRyanLewis59 karma

Very soon! That tour is put in the books, it's going down!

yellowcookiemonster32 karma

If you had to choose any other profession (not in the music industry) what would it be?

MacklemoreRyanLewis101 karma

Ryan: Movies. Making movies.

chantalelizabeth29 karma

What inspired you two to start working together. Love you by the way! :)

MacklemoreRyanLewis57 karma

Similar taste / criticalness to art.

srosenthal18 karma

Hey Macklemore & Ryan me and my buddies are huge fans and we're going to your show in SF on Oct 21st. What is your favorite city to play/visit other than Seattle?

MacklemoreRyanLewis65 karma

Favorite city to play in outside of Seattle: Dublin.