Macklemore: “I sucked [at rapping at first]. [Laughs.] I was really bad. You know it’s funny; my high school album is like you can find it on the Internet which is really embarrassing. Nah, I was really bad, but I was always a decent writer. I went through puberty like anyone. My voice didn’t start changing until I was probably like my late teens or my 20s almost. You just were trying to find yourself.
"I was listening to a lot of West Coast underground rap like Hieroglyphics and Project Blowed and Abstract Rude. All of those guys were really styling at the time, just crazy styles and cadences. And that’s what I really inspired by. The styles ranged all over my previous work. But again, it was about having equipment and figuring out who I was as a person. And that translated into the music.
I was listening to a lot of West Coast underground rap like Hieroglyphics and Project Blowed and Abstract Rude. All of those guys were really styling at the time, just crazy styles and cadences.
“Before that, I grew up listening to predominantly Dre and Snoop. When I was kid, I listened to West Coast gangster rap. In middle school, I listened to a lot of Biggie, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Fugees, and stuff like that. By the time I got into high school, that’s when I got into the West Coast underground stuff.
“I don’t really know what drew me, it was just different. Just the styles were so different back then. They were completely unconventional. The MCs seem hella free. There were going all over the place. There was a lot of dope crew albums. Freestyle Fellowship and Hieroglyphics, they have such a diversity in terms of style within the groups. That’s what I was about. I was in a group in high school. You know, just flipping as many styles as you could do was like the dopest thing at the time.
“My high school rap group’s name embarrassingly enough was Elevated Elements. It was a bunch of spiritual, lyrical, ferial rap. But it was dope. Being in a group, it also made me want to be self-sufficient. I was like, ‘Fuck these dudes.’ They are not about their business, or you know? And not that the talent wasn’t there, but again, I just wanted to be controlling and work as hard that I wanted to work. And you can’t rely on somebody else’s work ethic to dictate how to live your life.
“But it was great. That’s how I learned how to perform. I’m still friends with pretty much all those guys. One of them lives out here in New York. I see him pretty much every time I come out here. We are still great friends. We came up rapping together. There is so much history there. I’ve been rapping over half my life at this point. So there are just a lot of great memories and hilarious blackmail-able songs on hard drives stored away in closets and shit.”