Numbers add up to stardom for Macklemore & Ryan LewisHip-hop duo works hard for numbers

The Spokesman-ReviewNovember 1, 2013 

Hip-hop act Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will perform at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center before heading to Los Angeles to take the stage at the American Music Awards later this month.


  • if you go

    What: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T.

    When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7

    Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

    Info:, 865-5555

Ten Thousand Hours.” That’s the name of the first track on “The Heist,” the debut full-length album from Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, released Oct. 11, 2012.

The idea behind the song, cribbed from Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book “Outliers,” is that it takes a lot of work — 10,000 hours worth — to become really good at something.

Rapper Macklemore, aka Ben Haggerty, and producer/DJ Lewis have been doing the work. Incessant touring, from college campuses to festivals in Europe and appearances on the late-night TV shows and MTV specials. All for an album they self-released with only marketing assistance from Warner Bros.

The work, those 10,000 hours, has paid off.

The duo kicked off a U.S. arena tour recently, which includes a stop at the Bryce Jordan Center on Nov. 7 and ending in Seattle in December.

“Ten Thousand Hours.”

Let’s get numerical and take a look at Macklemore & Ryan Lewis by the numbers:

78,000: That’s the number of copies of “The Heist” sold the first week of release, 83 percent of them downloads. As Macklemore put it in a blog post at, as he watched the numbers, “I honestly thought iTunes was broken.” They’d hoped to sell between 20,000 and 30,000 copies that first week.

2.5: That’s the number of stars Rolling Stone awarded “The Heist” (out of five). While praising the charms of “Thrift Shop” and the virtues of “Same Love,” critic Jody Rosen ultimately said Macklemore’s self-righteousness “tests, and eventually exhausts, your patience. A pity, because his partner’s beats are playful and inventive.”

1.1 million: That’s copies sold to date. Maybe no one reads Rolling Stone anymore. “The Heist” was certified platinum on Aug. 28.

52: That’s the number of weeks (and counting) “The Heist” has spent on the Billboard 200. It’s currently No. 50 on the list.

7,317,259: The number of times “White Walls,” the fourth video from “The Heist,” has been viewed on YouTube since the day it dropped, Sept. 9.

670,803,468: The number of times, combined, that the four “Heist” videos — “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” “Same Love” and “White Walls” — have been viewed since “Thrift Shop” was released Aug. 29, 2012, as of Thursday afternoon. That monster video, by the way, has been viewed 437,632,797 times.

0: Go to, the influential music website, and do a search for Macklemore. The number of entries that come up? Zero. Taking aim at the site in “Ten Thousand Hours” probably didn’t win Macklemore any friends there.

2: Where “The Heist” debuted — and peaked — on the Billboard 200 on Oct. 17, 2012, right behind Mumford & Sons’ “Babel.”

5: “Thrift Shop” was the fifth single released from “The Heist,” but it was the first to break nationally. “Same Love” was released in the summer of 2012, in support of Washington’s marriage equality campaign. The first single, the Dave Niehaus tribute “My Oh My,” came out Dec. 21, 2010, followed a month later by “Wings.” “Can’t Hold Us” was released in August 2011.

30, 25: Ages of Haggerty and Lewis, respectively.

35 and counting: Number of music industry award nominations this year.

13 million: Total number of copies, roughly, sold of “Thrift Shop” (7 million), “Can’t Hold Us” (4 million) and “Same Love” (2 million).

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