Age: 29
Label: Macklemore LLC
From: Seattle
Active Since: 2000
Latest Release: The Heist
Recent Single: "Thirft Shop" f/ Wanz
It's been a long climb for Ben Haggerty, a.k.a. Macklemore. The Seattle-born MC has been plying his trade since the year 2000 (back when he was known as Professor Macklemore), steadily building a fanbase—with a short detour for drug and alcohol rehab in 2008—before hitting it big this past year with his producer Ryan Lewis. It’s been an amazing run. The pair sent not one but two songs, "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us,” to the top spot on the pop charts without a lick of major label support.

Macklemore’s not just independent in the sense of his label situation. He’s a free spirit who seems utterly uninterested in living up to the standard cliches of “cool” rapper behavior. Both an unabashed entertainer, unafraid to throw on a silly wig and a sparkly cape to get the crowd hype, and an earnest "edutainer" who has railed against drug use on his song "Otherside” and endorsed the right to gay marriage with "Same Love."

He backs it all up with impeccable rhyme skills—honed by years of tireless touring—and a wicked pen game. Although he counts Aceyalone and Freestyle Fellowship as key influences, Macklemore is strictly one of a kind. —Rob Kenner

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