When Ben Haggerty approaches, he seems sheepish and awkward, if not tentative and searching. As he walks into the small, low-key Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle’s Central District, it becomes clear that everyone here respects his privacy and his celebrity as the professional rapper Macklemore in equal measure. The patrons acknowledge him with a warm familiarity; one of the waitresses teases that her daughter recently saw him on TV rapping about garbage with Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. Earl—a tooth-impaired, middle-aged brother who’s seen better days—chats him up and sits down, until Ben informs Earl that there’s an interview about to take place.
There are a few reasons why we’re here. One is that the interview was set to take place at Ben’s house, which is seven minutes away, but Tricia Davis—Ben’s pregnant finacée and an integral part of his business life—is eight or nine days overdue and was not informed that there would be any guests until the night before. But, moreover, the restaurant is located down the block and around the corner from the location where Ben attends 12-step meetings. Which he’s done everyday since last September, when he discovered Tricia was with child and started working with Ryan Lewis on their new, still untitled follow-up to 2012’s history-making The Heist. “I have to keep myself on point and be the best version of myself for this child to be the best version of itself,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’m grown up. I feel like I’m a kid. I feel like I’m the 15-year-old kid down the street, trying to escape, get out of class, smoke weed in the street, and kick it. And that’s a version of myself that I don’t feel that far removed from.”