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MTV VMAs: The Year of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

After years of struggling as artists, the DIY poster boys have become an overnight sensation.

Ben Haggerty, better known by his stage name Macklemore, has been recording and releasing music since his teenage days circa 2000. Originally from Seattle, Wash., he’s turned the contemporary idea of how to become famous into ancient history. With a performance on tap for MTV's Video Music Awards on Sunday, and gigs at the Woodie Awards and Movie Awards in the rear view, he's the only artist to ever play all three of the network's major shows in a single calendar year.

Macklemore met partner/producer Ryan Lewis on Myspace in 2006, and while Lewis started as the rapper’s photographer, the two soon developed a close relationship and, ultimately, an artistic partnership. The duo has released all of their music independently, yet have reached the top of the Billboard charts twice and have made the late-night television rounds -- all less than one year after the release of their monster single, "Thrift Shop."

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While the infectious single thrust the duo into the spotlight seemingly overnight, there’s more to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis than meets the eye.

Haggerty is a recovering drug and alcohol addict, whose sobriety came into jeopardy after the success of "Thrift Shop." But when almost no one in hip-hop was speaking up in favor of gay rights, his “Same Love” became an anthem, boldly declaring: "No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it."

The duo had the opportunity to perform the new hit on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2012, when the host promptly dubbed the two her “new heroes” for backing an issue so close to her heart.

Yet another socially conscious single from their smash hit album The Heist, “Wing$” is about “the pursuit of identity through the means of consumerism,” according to a blog post by the artist.

And as an avid sports fan and Seattle enthusiast, Macklemore released the song “My Oh My” about Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who passed away a month prior to the song’s release. The duo performed the song on the Mariner’s opening night against the Cleveland Indians in 2011.

Before they take the stage at the VMAs on Sunday, here’s a look back at some of Macklemore’s biggest highlights of 2013 (so far).

Jan. 18

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis make their second appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in as many years, this time to promote their radio-defining single “Thrift Shop.”

Jan. 21

Haggerty proposes to longtime girlfriend, Tricia Davis, who doubles as the group’s tour manager. The two met on Myspace around the time that Haggerty met Lewis. The two dated for about seven years before Haggerty popped the big question.

March 17

The duo performs their new single “Can’t Hold Us” at the MTV Woodie Awards at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. They also nab the trophy for Branching Out Woodie.

April 4

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform “Can’t Hold Us” on “Conan.”

April 14

The duo performs “Can’t Hold Us” at the MTV Movie Awards after an introduction from Snoop Dogg.

May 17

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are pictured on the highly coveted Billboard Magazine cover. "I'm always in a process of trying to find out who I am and why I'm here," Macklemore said in his interview. "And that hasn't changed. That's what The Heist is about."

May 19

"Thrift Shop" wins Rap Song of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards.

June 24

After more than a string of successful shows across the pond, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis announce a slew of U.S. tour dates beginning in October.

June 30

The artists are honored with a Best Group nod at the BET Awards.

Aug. 11

"Can't Hold Us" wins the surfboard for Choice R&B HIp-Hop Track at the Teen Choice Awards, while Macklemore & Ryan Lewis win Choice Hip-Hop/Rap Artist.

Aug. 14

Macklemore lands yet another high-profile mag cover with Rolling Stone.  "I think on the mainstream level, nobody knows what the f--- I am," says Lewis in the interview. "Am I the DJ? Do I make the beats? Do I rap? Am I singing on tracks? I don't think a lot of people know except real fans who have been around. I mean, you guys, Rolling Stone, don't want to put me on the cover. It's like, you're going to sell more copies with Ben's face. Why is that? Because the general public, based on the way this whole thing's been marketed . . . are going to be more receptive to 'Macklemore.' The public don't care how the song came together. And I can't change that. So if I have jealousy, deriving from that, then that's just stupid."

Aug. 16

During a performance on Good Morning America that included "Same Love," a lesbian couple became engaged on live television.

Aug. 25

Almost exactly one year after the release of "Thrift Shop," the stars are preparing to rock the stage at the MTV VMAs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. They join a star-studded lineup featuring contemporary music icons including: Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, and Robin Thicke. (Not to mention the six Moonmen they'll be vying for that night.)

Tune in: MTV will air the VMAs live from Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.