Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us is taken from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut studio album The Heist. It was released on August 16, 2011 as the fourth single from the album.
The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ second number-one hit in the United States. It has also reached number one in 13 other countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis version of the song was featured in the 2012 dance video game Just Dance 4.
The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis version of “Can’t Hold Us” features two main vocals, performed by Jamila Woods. Macklemore’s verses are sung by Ray Dalton, although Macklemore does the main vocal work in the chorus.
The song was debuted live on television with a performance at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, along with Macklemore performing “Thrift Shop”. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis also performed “Can’t Hold Us” during the NHL awards, late night with Jimmy Fallon, the Billboard Music Awards (with Jennifer Hudson), Good Morning America and The Ellen Show.
Macklemore wrote this song inspired by Macklemore’s struggles as an independent musician trying to make it in the music industry. Macklemore used Kickstarter to raise money for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut studio album, The Heist. Macklemore recalled of his struggle: “It was December 2009 and I was waiting tables at a seafood restaurant in Seattle called Crab Pot. I spent 10 years struggling as an independent musician before I finally got my first check from making music… Six years into Macklemore’s career, Ryan Lewis’ debut single ‘Otherside’ was gaining traction on local radio stations. Macklemore was initially reluctant about Ryan Lewis doing the chorus for ‘Can’t Hold Us’, but after hearing it, Macklemore realized he had a good song with a great hook.