July 28, 2015


Macklemore on Post-Breakout Drug Relapse: "I Just Wanted to Escape"

C Brandon/Redferns via Getty Images
C Brandon/Redferns via Getty Images

The good: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' new album, the followup to 2012's inescapable The Heist, is proceeding as planned and should be out by the end of the year.

The not-so-good: It might have come sooner, except Macklemore relapsed into a former drug habit. In a new Complex cover story, the rapper dished about how he and producer Lewis plan to follow their breakout record, which yielded such smash hits as "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us," and discussed the slide into addiction that came as his star had finally hit worldwide.

Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, said he began smoking marijuana and taking pills, something with which he had struggled in the past:

“I was burnt out. I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping—doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame—everything. All the clichés, man—like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings—all of that put into one pie was just...I just wanted to escape.”

Macklemore added that he attempted to quit again once wife Tricia found his sleeping pills at SXSW, but it was only a momentary sobriety. The relapse even slightly affected his relationship with Lewis as they attempted the Heist follow-up. "Do you want to make this album?" Lewis recalled saying. "Because it doesn’t feel like you want to be here." Macklemore worried aloud about a relapse in late 2013 interviews.

The impetus for Mack finally shaking his habit again? His wife became pregnant, which he announced officially in January. "I've been trying to grow up this year,” he explained. “Since I heard that Tricia was pregnant, I was like, 'I need to grow up right now.'” That "growing up" has included yoga, meditation and other self-help strategies.

The duo estimated that they're about three-fourths through the recording of the new album, with a mix of "fun" and "imperative" (see: more serious) tracks laid down. In Macklemore's words:

“The hardest part of making an album is always the last quarter. The last quarter is really the most intensive, the most stressful, the most arguments between me and Ryan, the most challenging. So, we’re in that phase where it starts to feel like work, once you’re organizing songs and feeling out pieces that fit, that don’t fit, excavating. That’s the process that we’re in right now: How do you turn these moments into songs? And songs into an album?” 

An official release date, despite predictions of a Q4 2015 release, has not been revealed. This October will mark three years since The Heist, a GRAMMY winner for Best Rap Album, which was also nominated for Album of the Year and has sold over 1 million copies.