With their Grammy-winning 2012 debut album, "The Heist," the Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis spun gold (and platinum sales) from their contagious mix of boldly honest lyricism and inventively soulful music. Macklemore's witty, open tales dedicated to gay marriage, addiction and the struggles of youth and Lewis' colorful, dreamy production (to say nothing of his melodies) made the pair the politically correct rap choice of listeners and critics alike. That's why they jumped onto YouTube the other day to say their much-anticipated second album, "This Unruly Mess I Made,” would be very different from their first album.
“I was too comfortable and being comfortable is what kills artists," says Macklemore in the video. "There is creativity for validation, and there's creativity for survival; making music not because we had to, but because we got to."
Promoting the new album, out next month, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play two shows in Philly this weekend. Lewis called from a studio in Miami to discuss his pal (real name Ben Haggerty) and their process.
“This Unruly Mess I Made” — was it radically different than when you guys recorded “The Heist”?
This set of songs took a lot longer to record than the first time we made an album. Then again, we're processing a different chapter of our life. We actually made most of this album away from the studio and in a series of cabins. An atmosphere like that — someplace away from all distractions, all other music — gives you time and space to be more reflective and grow.
Did you go to the cabins with a handful of songs and sounds, or did you start from scratch?
A bunch of what you hear is a series of songs that I started working on while on the bus toward the end of our last tour. In September 2014, I did 30 days straight in the studio, recording musicians. That was the foundational content for our next step — hitting the cabins in January 2015.
How has your relationship with Macklemore has changed?
I've known Ben for over a decade. When you go through the success that we did with “The Heist,” that whole roller coaster, it's valuable to have a relationship that started long before that. Success is a lot to process on the life tip. When you come back to the everyday, you can unpack the old things together, good and bad. Parts of that process were hard, and parts of that were fun.
If you go:
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Saturday (sold out) and Sunday
69th and Ludlow, Upper Darby