Macklemore is having ‘the most fun’ — and it shows

“I want to make art that reflects where I’m at in life. I’m loving the spot that I’m in,” says Seattle-based rapper Macklemore.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP
“I want to make art that reflects where I’m at in life. I’m loving the spot that I’m in,” says Seattle-based rapper Macklemore.

Macklemore isn’t the biggest fan of the New England Patriots.

The Seattle-based rapper — real name Benjamin Haggerty — made that point clear when in August he released the video for “Marmalade,” the hit song featuring Lil Yachty off his latest solo effort, “Gemini.”

The video is basically one long Tom Brady troll-job. It features a group of young kids breaking into a football stadium before stealing Number 12’s jersey from the Patriots’ locker room, a nod to the infamous shirt heist that captivated the nation after the team won Super Bowl LI in dramatic fashion against the Atlanta Falcons. There’s even a Brady-like character seen placing a President Trump MAGA hat atop his head, and a scene where a room full of employees are sitting at a table deflating footballs.


As a devout Seattle Seahawks fan (his home team’s loss to the Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX still stings, he admits), picking fun at Brady came naturally when shooting the video.

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“We started out with these kids getting into some mischief, and somehow they ended up in the stadium and I was like, ‘Yo! What if they stole Tom Brady’s jersey?!’” Macklemore says. “It was fun. It was funny.”

But despite the tongue-in-cheek jab, Macklemore wants fans in the region to know that he has nothing but respect for the star quarterback — and he even has ties to the area himself. Macklemore returns to Boston Tuesday for a sold-out show at the House of Blues. While here, he plans to spend time with family, and maybe even walk the city streets, taking in the fall foliage and the energy that the college scene exudes, he said.

“I always love coming to Boston. I have great memories of visiting during summers and being with the family, so you know, I’ve got a ton of aunts and uncles, and cousins and second cousins and people that are claiming that they’re my cousins even though I don’t know them,” he says, laughing. “This show sold out very quickly. Just to see that the fans are still there is always amazing.”

Macklemore is currently enjoying the success of his first solo album in more than decade; “Gemini” debuted in September at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and No. 1 for rap, R&B/hip-hop, and independent albums. Videos for its first few singles have racked up nearly 200 million views, collectively, in just months.


“It’s been crazy. The fans know words to music that has been out for a month, and that’s really awesome,” he says. “It’s exciting to see the fans resonate with that.”

“Gemini” comes five years after Macklemore and producer/pal Ryan Lewis launched “The Heist,” an album that catapulted the duo into the spotlight with the foot-tapping track “Thrift Shop,” and the pro-gay rights anthem “Same Love,” scoring them several Grammys.

The pair’s 2016 follow-up album, “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made,” which dropped after Macklemore, who is in recovery, had “sneakily” started using again for a short time, an issue he continuously taps into musically, was met with slightly less mainstream enthusiasm.

In many ways the tracks were denser, he says, and the rhyme schemes and topics — take for example the lyrics in “White Privilege 2,” an 8½-minute symphony where Macklemore grapples, for the second time in his career, with his place as a white rapper in a genre founded by black artists and culture — were unconventional at best.

“It was a beautiful process; it was also a very daunting process to make that with Ryan, and I think we both kind of ended up just in a headier space,” he says, adding that he’s proud of the direction the album took. “We were trying to kind of push those boundaries, and I think commercially the industry kind of pushed back against those risks.”


His latest effort marks a brief departure from his work with Lewis (it was a mutual decision and they remain close friends) and the shedding of that heavy cloak of consciousness he donned while making “Unruly Mess.”

‘With this album I was like . . . “I want to have fun, I want to get in the zone, and I want to make art that reflects where I’m at in life.” I’m loving the spot that I’m in.’

So what changed?

“I really found freedom in just being able to create without judging it or scrutinizing it
. . . and just recording for the love of the crowd,” he says. “With this album I was like, ‘You know what, I want to have fun, I want to get in the zone, and I want to make art that reflects where I’m at in life.’ I’m loving the spot that I’m in.”

That’s apparent throughout the tracks on “Gemini,” which he recorded in a studio he built in his home. They’re for the most part upbeat and frenetic, laced with perfectly timed choruses that burrow deep into your brain and then resurface at random times on repeat.

Other songs, like “Good Old Days,” featuring pop star Kesha, take a heartfelt tone, dredging up emotions based on Macklemore’s own experiences that fans can easily connect with. That tune in particular reflects on growing up full of fear and craving the future, only to one day look back and romanticize being young, wishing you’d just enjoyed the moment.

Attendees at his Boston show can expect a range of feelings — he promises to play the hits, “the new stuff,” and the non-hits — when Macklemore takes the stage at the House of Blues on Tuesday. The performance, he adds, will be intimate.

“When I’m designing a show, I want to take people on a journey. I want to have songs that are super-hype, I want to have moments that make you think, I want to have moments that bring up emotion, and I want to bring it back up to super-hype,” he says. “It’s kind of this roller coaster of songs, and I think that it’s the most fun I’ve had performing.”

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.