Macklemore recalls his struggles with substance abuse; shows support for the LGBT community during Manila concert with Ryan Lewis

Macklemore (wearing black sando, leftmost) voiced out his support for the LGBT community during their 2014 concert in Manila: “I don’t know how you feel, everybody feels differently about this issue but me, personally, I believe, us as human beings, we are slowly starting to evolve. We are becoming more tolerant, we are more understanding. We have more capacity to be compassionate. I don’t know what you believe, but personally, I believe what the very fabri

Grammy award-winning hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis promised the best dance party and they gave even more than that!

Seattle-born rapper Macklemore (born as Ben Haggerty) and DJ/music producer Ryan Lewis visited Manila for their one-night only concert held last Sunday, March 16, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City. Presented by Concertus Manila and Wize & Ope, this event is part of their world tour for the duo's debut studio album, The Heist.

Elmo Magalona, Tim Yap, JM Rodriguez, and Valerie Weigmann as well as models Ryan See, Brent Javier, Janna Tee, Katarina Rodriguez were among the local celebrities who partied at the concert. Brothers Jeric and Jeron Teng were also spotted at the Arena that night.

Local acts—Those Damn Nerds and DJ Mars Miranda—opened the concert stage and set the party mood with their electronic dance beats.

Hip-hop duo The Bar—composed of Filipino-American rappers Prometheus Brown and Bambu Depistola—also took the stage to hype up the crowd with beats from DJ Nphared.

Fans cheered loudly when Prometheus Brown said, “Macklemore can not come out until everybody’s hyped!”

During their set, Prometheus Brown pointed out that they are full-blooded Filipinos who grew up in the United States. Still, they remain proud of their Pinoy roots. In fact, they incorporate the Filipino culture into their songs. The group treated fans to their original hits “Auntie” and “Coming (To America),” among others, from their 2014 album Barkada.

THE HEIST. Ear-deafening screams filled the arena when Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and their band emerged on stage. Without much ado, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed the song “Ten Thousand Hours.” The crowd roared when Macklemore screamed, “Manila, welcome to the heist!” in the middle of their first song.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Ten Thousand Hours." Video uploaded on Youtube by Koko Kass

Three huge screens were placed across the stage. Aside from the visuals provided on screen, the lights flashed onstage were dominantly red, blue, and white.

Before they performed their second song, Macklemore revealed that he has visited the country once when he was 19 years old.

He said, “I came here ‘cause I didn’t go to school so I decided to come travel to the Philippines.”

Macklemore could hardly believe that they are actually performing for their Filipino fans. The rapper admitted that the Manila leg is his most anticipated show on their world tour.

“And at that point in my life and even like a year ago, I would have never imagine that we would be here in Manila and play in front of 6,000 people,” he said.

“Out of the shows we booked in this portion of the tour, this is one that I’ve been looking forward to.”

The rapper asked the crowd, “Who’s gonna party with us tonight?” before blowing up the stage with their performance of “Crew Cuts.”

Since Macklemore still has three more days in the Philippines, he asked the crowd for suggestions regarding the places they should visit. The American rapper said that there’s one place he would definitely visit before hitting up the stage with their 2012 hit single “Thrift Shop.”

Macklemore candidly recalled the inspiration behind their songs. The rapper told everyone that he went to rehab because of substance abuse, an experience that inspired him to write some of their songs.

“This song right here, I just got out of treatment. I just got out of rehab,” he narrated.

“I never had control of my substance abuse, with drinking and drugs.

“I never had control and I finally went to rehab in 2008 and I finally got sober for the first time in my life, first time.”


He continued, “And I got out, I was broke, I was dead broke and I had to move back into my parents house which was just never cool.

“But what I did do is start making music with Ryan Lewis.

“So, I got out of the treatment and I went back home and started making music and we used to record in his parent’s basement.

“So I went over to his parent’s basement one day and he looped up this Red Hot Chili Peppers sample and in about 20 minutes I wrote this song right here.”

The 30-year-old rapper then performed an a capella version of “Other Side” and continued with a rendition of the song “Starting Over.”

SAME LOVE. One of the most memorable moments of the concert was when the hip-hop duo performed the song “Same Love” which they also performed during the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Before the performance, Macklemore voiced out his support for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. His desire to advocate for LGBT rights and same sex marriage actually inspired him to write the said song.

He said, “So, I don’t know about you guys how you personally feel. But, out of every single thing I would say on stage tonight, this probably the most important in all of it now.

“I don’t know how you feel, everybody feels differently about this issue but me, personally, I believe, us as human beings, we are slowly starting to evolve.

“We are becoming more tolerant, we are more understanding. We have more capacity to be compassionate.

“I don’t know what you believe, but personally, I believe what the very fabric that makes me the person that I am.

“I believe that no government, no state, no institution, no religion, no school, no human being on this earth can decide who you love and your heart.”


During the performance of the song, the audience sang along with Mary Lambert’s vocals belting out the “Same Love” hook: “I can’t change / even if I wanted to...” Duringthat moment, the ambience started to become more intimate as the audience started waving their hands from side to side.

At the end of the song, the Grammy award-winning rapper then asked everyone to raise their hands with the “number one sign” to symbolize their support for the LGBT community.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Same Love." Video by Nikko Tuazon

Macklemore continued to share anecdotes as he introduced their next song. He said he meets up with his uncle, Snoop Dogg, everytime he comes back home.

He narrated, “I get together and have dinner with my very, very good friend, Snoop Dogg.

“We get together and we eat, we eat spaghetti and we talk about life.

“Now, if some point in the conversation Snoop Dogg always ask me, he says it like this, he’s like, ‘Ayo nephew!’

“And I’m like, ‘What’s up Snoop Dogg? What’s up, man?’

“And Snoop Dogg would be like, ‘I have a very, very serious question for you.’

“And I’m like, ‘Okay, okay! Hit me, hit me with the serious question. I’m ready to go there.’

“And he’ll say, ‘out of every single show that you just did on your tour, which crowd was the f****** craziest?’”

More cheers and deafening screams filled the Arena as Macklemore continued, “Now, I never know what to say because there’s so many shows and you’re all so good.

“And the people are amazing in every place so I say to Snoop I can’t pick one.

“They’re all different and unique and special, and Snoop Dogg would be like, ‘Man, shut the f*** up!’


“And he’ll say, ‘I will ask you again, out of every single show in every single city that you just did on you tour, which crowd was the f****** craziest?’

“Now when he asks me this question, I wanna be able to look Snoop Doggy Dog in the face and I wanna be able to honestly say that the people in Manila are the craziest people in the universe!”

By the end of his speech, Macklemore challenged concertgoers to give their loudest screams as he said, “This next song will be your test, are you ready?”

For more than five minutes, the concertgoers raved and screamed their lungs out as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed their hit single “Can’t Hold Us.”

Singer Ray Dalton joined Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on stage to perform their hit single. At that point, confetti fell down from the rafters, adding to the fun vibe at the venue.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Can't Hold Us" with Ray Dalton. Video by Nikko Tuazon

The crowd engaged into more fist-pumping action as the hip-hop duo perform their last two tracks “White Walls” and “Wings.” However, concertgoers wanted to extend the party so they started chanting, “We want more! We want more!”

Within minutes, a video presentation was shown on screen to mark the start of their encore performance. Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and their band went out on stage for the second time and performed a wilder version of upbeat dance tracks “And We Danced” and “Irish Celebration.” Hip-hop duo The Bar joined them on stage and waved the Philippine flag.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Irish Celebration." Video uploaded on Youtube by Koko Kass

Before the last song, Macklemore thanked his band members, the dancers, and especially Ryan Lewis who helped him create their trademark music. Macklemore also acknowledged The Bar who helped him in his career when he was still starting out in Seattle.


After his thank-yous, Macklemore also said that his Filipino fans comprise the craziest crowd that he has ever seen.

Macklemore said, “Best f****** show on tour! I love you guys! Can’t wait to come back!”

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ended the concert with a second performance of the song “Can’t Hold Us.”

Overall, the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Manila concert is a full-blown dance party that is one for the books. Featuring anecdotes about Macklemore’s recovery from drug addiction and his advocacy for the LGBT community, the concert delivered more than just poetic lyrics and dance beats from the Grammy award-winning hip-hop duo.





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