Ryan Lewis is a popular American musician, hip-hop artist, disc-jockey, record producer and music video director. He rose to fame with singles such as ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’, and has been labelled as rapper Macklemore’s right hand. Lewis met Macklemore on ‘Myspace’ in 2006 and began working together in 2008. Ever since their collaboration, the duo have never failed to make an impression in the music industry. Ryan’s love for music had always been a vital part of his childhood and adhering to his passion he managed to build a career around it. Beginning his career as a photographer and videographer, he went on to produce and release his own extended play. But it was majorly after his collaboration with Macklemore that his talent showed at the US music charts. From his EP ‘The VS’ to his latest album ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’, Ryan is striking all the right cords. He has won eighteen music awards and several nominations spanning only a decade of career.
Childhood & Early Life
Ryan was born to Julie and Scott Lewis on 25th March, 1988 at Spokane in Washington. He grew with his elder sisters, Teresa and Laura. Teresa is four years elder to him and Laura is two years older.
He attended ‘Ferris High School’ in Spokane, Washington, and played the guitar at a young age in rock bands along with his best mate, Ryan Sanson. He developed a growing love for music at the age of fifteen.
Ryan eventually graduated from ‘Roosevelt High School’ in Seattle, Washington and then majored in ‘Comparative History of Ideas’ from the ‘University of Washington’.
Immediately after his graduation, he began working as a photographer and videographer. With his passion for music at its peak, he produced and released his debut EP ‘Instrumentals’, comprising of four alternative hip-hop tracks.
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He met Ben Haggerty better known as Macklemore on the social networking site ‘Myspace’ in 2006. They became good friends, with Ryan assisting in Macklemore’s promotional photography.
Their first collaboration took place two years later in 2008, when Ryan performed with the rapper at the ‘Sasquatch Music Festival’ and ‘Outside Lands Music Festival’ in San Francisco.
The following year, Ryan released an EP alongside Macklemore titled ‘The VS’, which ranked at number seven on the iTunes hip-hop music list.
In 2010, the single ‘Stay At Home Dad’ was released on free downloads. By October, he was ready with another EP titled ‘VS Redux EP’.
On 21st January, 2011 the song ‘Wings’ hit radios all over the globe. The song received great reviews and settled at number 12 on ‘US Billboard Hot 100’.
Soon after, the track ‘Can’t Hold Us’ became a sensation amongst young music lovers, which peaked on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ music chart. The song featured guest artist Ray Dalton, and was added to a ‘Miller’ beer advertisement in both Ireland and UK.
He also released the single ‘My Oh My’ for the deceased Seattle Mariners, and performed the song for the first time on ‘Mariners Opening Day’ alongside Macklemore.
His debut album with Macklemore ‘The Heist’ released the following and included singles such as ‘Wings’, ‘Can’t Hold Us’ and ‘My Oh My’ and ‘Make the Money’.
Another single named ‘Same Love’ was released in mid-2012. The album also featured guest artist ‘Schoolboy Q’ in the song ‘White Walls’. In August, the single ‘Thrift Shop’ was aired on the radio.
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In 2012, Lewis appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ and ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’, where he performed the track ‘Same Love’ with Macklemore.
In January 2014, the hip-hop duo rendered the audience speechless with their zestful performance at the ‘56th Annual Grammy Awards’, before a year-long tour, promoting their first studio album.
By early 2015, Ryan had almost completed work on the duo’s second studio album. He announced on Twitter that the new album would release later that year.
In order to satiate the gap between the two albums, he launched a single featuring the sensational pop-star, Ed Sheeran in August, 2015 called ‘Growing Up’.
On 27th August, 2015 he released another track with Macklemore called ‘Downtown’; it featured several artists and was performed at the ‘2015 MTV Music Video Awards’. The song booked the number 12 spot on ‘Billboard Hot 100’.
Immediately after the second single, songs such as ‘Buckshot’, ‘Spoons’ and ‘Dance Off’ were released and quickly began moving up the US music charts. On 26th February, 2016 his second studio album ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’ was launched.
His debut album sold over 78,000 copies in its first week and placed second on the ‘US Billboard 200’. ‘All Music’ stated that owing to Lewi’s kaleidoscope style, the album “winds up a rich combination of fresh and familiar”.
The single ‘Thrift Shop’ topped 24 music charts around the globe and reserved its position for six weeks on ‘Billboard Hot 100’. It was labelled the 18th best single of the year 2012 by ‘Entertainment Weekly’.
His second album with Macklemore sold 51,000 copies in the first week of its release. It booked the first place on the ‘US Billboard Independent Albums’, ‘US Billboard R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums’ and ‘UK R&B Albums (OCC)’.
Awards & Achievements
The year 2013 brought with it several accolades for Ryan Lewis. He won the ‘Favourite Rap/ Hip-Hop Album’ for Heist and ‘Best Single of the Year’ for ‘Thrift Shop’ at the ‘American Music Awards’.
Amongst other awards of 2013, he won the ‘Independent breakthrough of the Year Award’ and ‘Award for Most Played New Independent Act’ at ‘AIM Awards’. He took home the ‘BET Award for Best Group’ and the ‘Billboard Best Rap Song of the Year Award’ for ‘Thrift Shop’.
He also earned the ‘MTV Video Music Award’ for ‘Best Hip-Hop Video’ and ‘Best Cinematography’ for the single ‘Can’t Hold Us’ and ‘Best Video with a Social Message’ for ‘Same Love’. Along with Macklemore, he bagged the ‘Hip/Hop Artist’ and ‘Hip-Hop Track’ awards at the ‘Teen Choice Awards’.
In 2014, he won four Grammy’s including ‘Best Rap Album’, ‘Best new Artist’, ‘Best Rap Performance’, ‘Best Rap Song’ for ‘Thrift Song’ and ‘Favourite Hip Hop Artist’ at ‘People’s Choice Awards’.
In 2015, he received the ‘Best Video Award’ for ‘Downtown’ at the ‘MTV Europe Music Awards’ and the ‘iHeartRadio International Artist or Group MuchMusic Video Award’ in 2016.
Personal Life & Legacy
In December, 2015 Ryan Lewis proposed to his high school sweetheart, Jackie Ganger. The couple are presently gearing up for the ultimate white wedding.
Lewis currently resides at Seattle. He recently revealed that his mother acquired HIV from a blood transfusion after a delivery but none of her children have contracted the virus.
His mother battled the virus for 30 years and still survived. Thus, he has begun a project called 30/30, aiming to build health centres in United States and the globe to assist people living with HIV.