Ryan Lewis was born on March 25, 1988, in Spokane, Washington, eventually taking up photography and music production. After he befriended the rapper Macklemore via Myspace, the two teamed up and later went on to have huge success with their debut album, The Heist, and the singles "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us," with millions of copies sold. Lewis is noted for the act's distinctive, original sounds.
Background and Friending Macklemore
DJ and producer Ryan Lewis was born on March 25, 1988, in Spokane, Washington. He developed an interest in music during his youth, playing the guitar and working in media production. He eventually took up photography as well. He befriended Seattle hip-hop artist Macklemore via Myspace in 2006.
"He recorded a track called 'Welcome to Myspace,' and there wasn't anything like it at the time," Lewis said of his future partner in a 2013 Billboard interview. "No one was writing about meeting women on Myspace or checking your messages over and over again." Lewis worked with the rapper first as a creative consultant. Later, after Macklemore recovered from major substance-abuse issues, the two decided to team up and work together musically.
Releasing 'The Heist'
In 2010, the two released the Vs. Redux EP. Rather than go the traditional record-label route, the duo opted instead to work on their full-length debut independently, relying upon their own savvy, hard work, word of mouth and online buzz. (Lewis is particularly known for having a sharp business acumen and drive that belie his years.) They released The Heist in October of 2012. The album, which is noted for being a hip-hop project that doesn't have any samples and relies on Lewis' original sounds, opened at No. 2 on Billboard's main album charts.
Major Hits: 'Thrift Shop' and 'Can't Hold Us'
The Heist's lead single, "Thrift Shop," eventually reached the top of the Hot 100 chart, with eventual sales of more than 6 million downloads. The video for "Thrift Shop" has become a phenomenon as well, receiving tens of millions of YouTube views. The duo's second single, "Can't Hold Us," reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart as well, making Macklemore & Ryan Lewis the first duo in music history to have their first two singles reach the top of the pop charts.
Part of the duo's appeal is their innovation and reliance on ideas and lyrics that go against much of hip-hop's traditional swagger. "Thrift Shop" talks of a penchant for secondhand clothes, with a chorus sung by Wanz (a onetime software engineer in his fifties), while the Heist song "Same Love" features singer-songwriter Mary Lambert in a celebration of same-sex unions.
The duo have embarked on a full-fledged international tour in 2013