Macklemore, who has struggled with substance abuse issues in the past, recently spoke about how music influenced his life during an interview which was part of mtvU’s “The Other Side” initiative launched by MTV and The Jed Foundation’s “Half of Us” campaign.

“I know how much artists influenced my life,” Macklemore says in the interview. “Growing up, listening to Blackalicious, the words of Gift of Gab really put me on a certain path. It brought me closer to God. It was a means of…It was my means…What I didn’t get from church or what I didn’t get through organized religion, I got through music. I know that power. And if I have a gift, in any capacity, with words, and I don’t use that power or utilize that power, then I’m not doing my job. You can call that a responsibility. Call it whatever you want, but I know my truth.” 

Blackalicious, which consists of emcee Gift of Gab and deejay/producer Chief Xcel, released its debut album, Nia, in 1999. The duo released two full-length follow-up albums, Blazing Arrow in 2002 and The Craft in 2005. Blazing Arrow received a 3.5 X rating by HipHopDX and The Craft earned a 4 X rating in its HipHopDX review.

In 2012, Macklemore spoke with HipHopDX about his early experiences in Hip Hop.

“I was really just infatuated with Hip Hop and always wanted to be on a stage,” Macklemore said at the time. “So by the time I got to 14, 15 years old, slam poetry and open mics were really big at the time. That was part of my first initial upbringing, along with freestyling. There was a lot of writing raps, but there were also a lot of freestyle sessions in school and skipping class and going out and freestyling. That was a part of who I was, and that was the beginning of my artistic career.” 

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