Exactly who does this Macklemore think he is? The Emperor of Seattle? The King of Rap? Shall we buy him a crown and a throne and build him a palace overlooking the city? Or is he just another overhyped music star who could be down-and-out in a couple of years and riding a boxcar out of town?
Seriously, Seattle wants more and more of Macklemore (pictured, right) these days. The Northwest rapper with a sound heard ’round the world is doing three big hometown shows at KeyArena. And even three big shows don’t seem like enough to rabid fans of the extraordinary self-made rapper who — with talented producer and right-hand man Ryan Lewis (pictured, left) — lays down positive music that feels good for the soul.
The biggest local rap sensation since Sir Mix-a-Lot, Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) had been honing his craft and building an audience since 2000, when suddenly his career exploded with the 2012 single “Thrift Shop,” a tune about secondhand style with a very Seattle sensibility. The song went to No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 singles chart this year, selling more than 2 million copies — a breathtaking achievement for an artist without a label.
Macklemore and Lewis’ second single, “Can’t Hold Us,” also went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart. And “Same Love” has become an anthem for supporters of marriage equality. All three songs are featured on the duo’s 2012 album, “The Heist,” which made its debut at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 chart and has now reached platinum numbers (1 million copies).
Last summer, Macklemore stopped traffic and drew huge crowds for a video shoot at Dick’s Drive In on Capitol Hill, a favorite location of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s a generation ago.
Long live Macklemore, the king of Northwest rap. (Talib Kweli and Big KRIT are opening Tuesday and Wednesday; Thursday’s opener is TBA.)
8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at KeyArena, Seattle Center; sold out (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com).
Gene Stout, Special to The Seattle Times