Times are a changin' for Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, who welcomed his daughter (Sloane Ava Simone Haggerty) two months ago on May 29. As a new parent, he has questioned the very person he used to be and who he wants to be now. To pay tribute to the ebb and flow of life and this new chapter, the rapper teamed up once again with Ryan Lewis on their first taste of new music since 2012's blockbuster and genre-defining The Heist (featuring the Can't Hold Us, Thrift Shop and Mary Lambert-assisted Same Love smashes). To add a dazzling bit of singer-songwriter sheen, Ed Sheeran rips into his supple mapped-out chorus with a powerful grit and passion. "I wish that I could say that I was in a 'better place' when I found out the news," Haggerty writes of the free download, detailing the moment his life changed forever. "It would make for a far more polished and respectable story. But I think back to that night: praying on the floor at 2am as Tricia went to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test I’d just purchased from Walgreens. I was scared. Scared to start working on new music. Scared of trying again and failing. Scared of the process of staring at myself through a page and seeing someone that I wasn’t proud of. Someone that I didn’t like. Someone that wasn’t ready to be a dad."
The sweetly-polished hip-hop track offers up a more tender and profound aspect to the rapper, known for dropping lyrics like "nah, walk up to the club like, 'What up? I got a big cock!'" Growing Up, peppered with a vibrant horn section and tinkling piano, is a patient and engaging entry into the grander pop story of 2015. He continues, in his heart-string-plucking statement, "I’ve always had some make-believe image in my head of who I would be as a father. I held on to clear expectations of where I wanted be in my career, my age, my level of self-care, and my maturity. I basically assumed that I'd have it all together. But in actuality the hypothetical “dad" version of me looked completely different than the man whose heart was beating out of his chest on the carpet, praying to a god or spirit I hadn’t talked to in months. When Tricia walked out of the bathroom, I knew. And I knew I had to change."
And musically, he was then able to find a new well from which to draw creative and refreshing water. "5 months later we were recording in a remote cabin away from the density that is Seattle. I was finally having fun in the studio for the first time in years," he says. "Songs were getting made, finally. I was going back to the city once a week to attend a birthing class with Tricia. When I got back to the cabin the next day, Ryan had made a new beat that would eventually become the song you’re listening to. Half of it is advice about growing up. The other half is trying to figure out how to grow up myself."
A change did come, then, with an echoing and unrelenting electricity. "When you try to escape yourself, life has an interesting way of creating situations that force you to come back. To look at who you are. This is why [this track] felt like the right song to re-emerge with. It’s where I’ve been the last year, through all the ups and downs. We didn’t want to do a big campaign or anything over the top with this. We just wanted to put out good music, directly to the people that have been here since the beginning. Thank you for your patience. Hope you enjoy."
"There is nothing like the joy and happiness that comes from bringing a baby into this universe. She has filled my heart in ways that I never knew were possible. She is the love of my life. This song is for her," he closes.
Growing Up is not the lead single to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' new project, but it should most certainly quench fans' thirst (for now).
Take a listen to Growing Up below: