Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Addiction, Controversy

After a successful year, the duo discusses Macklemore's past substance abuse and backlash from their music.
3:00 | 01/02/14

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Addiction, Controversy
It was a fitting way to cap 2013 for macklemore and ryan lewis performing in front of tens of millions of people on new year's rocking eve. The two became the year's most improbable pop stars, rapping abut unusual, highly personal topics. True to form when I sat down with them recently they were bracingly candid. ♪ ♪ Reporter: Mcle more and ryan lewis had a wild run in 2013, their record sold more than a million copies. The videos for "can't hold us." ♪ Like the ceiling can't hold us ♪ Reporter: And "thrift shop" had 700 million views, nominate ford seven grammys, wrapped up a tour and last night they played "new year's rocking eve" here on abc. ♪ ♪ but right now as they transition away from the screaming crowds and back to normal life, is when macklemore, worries about relapsing into substance abuse that derailed him in the past. For me what is a temptation is coming home off the road. Which is why this time period is interesting. Right now is -- this is when itpened before. This is when I have fallen back before. Reporter: At its worst drugs and alcohol landed him in the hospital and in 2008, in relab. I just never had an off switch from it. From the first time I ever drank alcohol, I got that warm feeling, I got that like losing in his bags fee inhibition. After that I wondered what six was like. Eight. Eight is fun. What is ten like. How bad did it get for you? Isolation. Broke, depressed. No reason to really live. Did it impact your working relationship? Yeah, we didn't work for the first three years. I think that was at the centerpiece. Reporter: When macklemore is healthy, his partnership with ryan lewis, he met on myspace eight years ago is productive. ♪ Got $20 ♪ Reporter: An unlikely success story. A hip-hop group that rails against materialism. Racism, homophobia and raps about substance abuse and buddhist meditation and went mainstream on their own with no record label their working relagsship is more collaborative than many fans may realize. I'm critiquing lyrics for sure? Critiquing the hell out of -- the first person to experience a new song. I come up. My hands are shaking. I've got something. And just like, this one. This one. This is horrible! Does he have a red pen? Might as well. We should get you a red pen. Reporter: One song lewis weighed in heavily, same love, the band's owed to gay rights. ♪ ♪ Reporter: Same love is so far outside the range of the normal stuff we hear in a hip-hop song. What, what possess you'd to write it? I was sent ape sto story from a mom about a gay kid that committed suicide, took his own life. And it started with me writing from the perspective of that kid. Trying to take it on from his vantage point. And as usual I kind of liked what I wrote. Brought it in to ryan. Ryan was like you, know what, red marker. This isn't your story to tell. You have a story. You have a vantage point. But it's not this. Good advice. Probably the best advice ryan has ever given me about the song. ♪ If I was gay ♪ Reporter: The soat song created some backlash, but nothing compared to what happened when macklemore brought up trayvon martin on the music awards. Dew I want to acknowledge trayvon martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling. The feedback from that, the hatred in the next 48 hours from that, surpassed all of the hatred in the last year from "same love." The racism that came back from that, via social media, blew me away. It was an eye-opening experience to see where half of our country still is in terms of race issues in america. Reporter: How do you balance your desire to use your platform to advance causes you care about, and the risk of coming off as preachy? You scrutinize everything. Because you don't want to come across as preachy. No one wants to be preached to. Reporter: After hustling and scraping to make it for years, fame is some times trickier than they imagine. And it's not just about the response to their public pronouncements, it is also the lack of privacy, and the exhaustion of the road. Macklemore says he some times has to check himself when he has a diva moment. Be grateful. Be happy. Enjoy this. It's not promised. Who knows where we are going to be in a year, two years, three years. We're at this position now. And I don't want to look back and be like, you had it all, and you weren't even present for tip. You weren't able to enjoy it. I want to be here. Be now. Be grateful. Watch behind the music. Check out mc hammer, and you'll see how quickly it can go. I'm wearing his jewelry. Ha-ha. You had to say it. All right, thanks to ben and

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"3:00","description":"After a successful year, the duo discusses Macklemore's past substance abuse and backlash from their music.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"21395240","title":"Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Addiction, Controversy","url":"/Nightline/video/macklemore-ryan-lewis-addiction-controversy-21395240"}