Macklemore Talks Arts Education, Dad Life and His Return to the Studio (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
Macklemore is working to bring arts back to schools!
ET caught up with the 35-year-old rapper over the phone earlier this month, and he opened up about his family, his passion for the arts and when fans can expect new music.
Arts education has always been important to Macklemore, largely because of how much it benefited him growing up.
"I had some great art teachers. And, being honest, I wrote graffiti as a kid and it was a big part of my middle school, early high school era," he said. "I had a teacher that brought us spray paint and had us spray paint on the desks. Just kind of that different type of approach was really big, not just saying, ‘You kids can’t do this,’ but, you know, ‘You kids can’t do this, how about we figure out a solution to it versus just a punishment.’"
And now, as a dad to two daughters -- Colette, 11 months, and Sloane, 3 -- with his wife, Tricia Davis, Macklemore is once again experiencing first hand the importance of arts in schools.
"I’m already watching it with Sloane. She’s almost four now and we picked the school that she can really focus in on her creativity and has a social justice mission," he said. "And then also, of course, putting her into classes wherever she is passionate. That’s one of the things that I have resources for is to be able to pay for private arts education outside of schools, but a lot of people don’t have that."
To help those less fortunate, Macklemore recently teamed up with LIFEWTR to work to beautify high schools that are facing cuts to their arts programming in Miami, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere with murals by local artists. Through April 8, people can even submit their school to be beautified, with Macklemore helping to pick the final institution to be beautified this summer.
The program, which will also include teacher grants and classroom kits, is set to benefit more than 10 million kids, something the "Marmalade" rapper is "really proud of and... hoping to even expand in the years to come."
"I got behind the campaign because it deals directly with youth and creativity," Macklemore explained. "... The arts, creativity, really begin with schools. It is extremely important right now with all of the budget cuts and with priorities shifting in schools to really make sure that kids are getting an opportunity to express themselves in a creative way."
"I think that the mural part of it is really cool," he added. "I can still think of numerous murals that are up right now in Seattle that have been there a long time. They become a part of the city. They become a part of the school. They tell a story. I think if we had a project like that when I was growing up, the mural portion of it, it would be really cool. It’s a piece of history. It’s a piece of art that will last for generations."
In addition to his collaboration with the brand, Macklemore also runs his own program, The Residency, which he describes as "a rap camp" and is set to celebrate its fifth year this summer.
"There’s writing workshops. We put them into groups. They record a song. They perform that song. We have different mentors. People come in and do panels and talk to the kids," he said of the camp, which will have 60 participants this summer. "It’s just a way that we can kind of foster that community that I had when I was growing up."
"I think with the internet… kids don’t have to be as social anymore. They can network on the internet and they can put their songs on Soundcloud, and all of that technology is great, but there is something missing in terms of getting out into the community and making art with others," he continued. "We really saw that void in Seattle and wanted to close it up a little bit and give kids the opportunity to build with other like-minded artists and express themselves."
With all of his good deeds and focus on staying in "dad mode" for his girls, Macklemore hasn't released an album since Gemini in 2017. Fans can rejoice though, the rapper confirmed to ET that he is back in the studio ahead of his busy summer of European festivals.
"I don’t know exactly when the album’s gonna be. I’ve been taking a bit of a break, spending time with my girls and really being on dad mode, but started recently to get back in the studio outside of the features that I was doing and make my own music," he revealed. "So we’ll see where that takes me, but right now I’m just enjoying life wherever it leads."
"I’m staying busy on the road, getting back into the studio, raising these kids and enjoying it all," he added.
Watch the video below for more on the "Good Old Days" rapper: