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Underground Rapper

Kevin Noonan | Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things are about to get weird. Maybe not weird — Weird might be the wrong word. Let’s go with unique. Things are about to get unique, as student favorite, Irish-heritage fanatic and undoubtedly unique underground rapper Macklemore and his partner Ryan Lewis come to campus Saturday at Legends.

The Seattle-born rapper, formally named Sean Haggerty, may not ring bells with some students, but anyone who has walked around campus on game day mornings has probably heard the rapper’s “Irish Celebration” blasting from a dorm room. This song, like many of Macklemore’s, was produced by Lewis.

Macklemore calls the Irish-influenced ballad a “drinking song,” and it certainly evokes a certain sense of Irish pride. However, he’s far from a typical rapper when it comes to subjects like substance abuse.

One of the things that makes Macklemore so unique is that he brings a sense of social conscience to his music. His song “Otherside,” which features an eerie sample of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song of the same title, shares his experience of losing a friend to a codeine-cough syrup addiction, as well as his criticism of the rap culture’s promotion of drugs to its young and impressionable audience.

His critiques do not stop at drugs, as he sings about the problem of out-of-control consumerism in his single “Wings.” Much like “Otherside,” “Wings” blends powerful lyrics with fantastic production.

Macklemore’s latest single, “Make the Money,” issues a critique on the greed in the music business specifically, as well as society’s tendency to do things for the money in general.

But as comfortable as Macklemore is with rapping about substance abuse, death and greed, he is just as at ease in lighthearted songs. “Irish Celebration” is a fairly relaxed glorification of Irish-American heritage.

Another of his recent singles, “Can’t Hold Us,” shows off some of his better rapping skills while remaining fast-paced and upbeat. It has a catchy enough chorus to compete with any mainstream pop song.

One of his odder songs, “And We Danced,” is a tongue-in-cheek dance-pop song with a bit of self-deprecating humor. In the recently-released video, he even dresses up as David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”

Macklemore is currently experiencing something of a career comeback. He first released an EP in 2000 as Professor Macklemore to little success. But in 2005 he dropped the Professor, and released his first official full-length album, “The Language of My World.”

Haggerty then dropped off the musical map until 2009. For four long years he wasted away in substance abuse, ranging from OxyContin, alcohol and Percocet to even the codeine-cough syrup that claimed the life of his friend.

But by 2009 he had begun to clean up his act, leading to his resurgence as not only an artist with a unique style, but also with a unique message. In 2009 he released “The Unplanned Mixtape.” He teamed up with Lewis to release the “VS. Redux” E.P. in 2010 and has continued to release singles throughout 2011.

Macklemore and Lewis will perform at 11 p.m. in Legends on Saturday.