Iro (right) won the chance to work with rapper Macklemore (center) and country singer Shane McAnally (left) on his song, 'Shadow,' on an August episode of 'Songland.' Iro (right) won the chance to work with rapper Macklemore (center) and country singer Shane McAnally (left) on his song, 'Shadow,' on an August episode of 'Songland.' Iro (right) won the chance to work with rapper Macklemore (center) and country singer Shane McAnally (left) on the song, 'Shadow,' on an August episode of 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)

Israeli songwriter is out of the 'shadows,' thanks to rapper Macklemore

Iro, a full-time street musician from Tel Aviv, skyrocketed to the top of the hip-hop charts after his appearance on 'Songland.'

You might have heard his smooth, brooding voice on the New York City subway, or on a street corner in Brooklyn. Ori Rakib, known by his stage name Iro, has been a full-time busker around the Big Apple for years, attracting a steady yet modest stream of followers.

That is, until this summer, when the busker became the big star. On an Aug. 14 episode of NBC's songwriting competition show "Songland," the Israel-born Iro was awarded the opportunity to work with Macklemore, the Seattle-based chart-topping hip-hop artist known for such hits as "Thrift Shop" and "Good Old Days."

Macklemore Macklemore is known for plucking songwriters out of obscurity to take guest spots on his songs. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Iro performed his original song, "Shadow," for Macklemore and his songwriting crew, hoping they'd choose the song for the rapper to perform. And, sure enough, the panel approved. But they went a step further: Macklemore also tapped Iro to be featured on the track with him.

Iro performed his original version of 'Shadow' in front of the guest panel on 'Songland' before Macklemore chose his song. Iro performed his original version of 'Shadow' in front of the guest panel on 'Songland' before Macklemore chose his song. (Photo: NBC)

“I just want to perform this song in front of 40,000 people in Ireland," Macklemore, whose real name is Benjamin Haggerty, told Iro on the episode. "I have a vision. I see it. Songwriting is about human experience. We’re trying to go give that to the world, and you have that ability. You captured that in this song.”

After the episode aired, "Shadow" became No. 1 on the Apple Music hip-hop charts. With a tightened, slightly catchier chorus and a Gaelic-themed melody, the song is now a certified hit, catapulting Iro to the big stage.

Macklemore and Iro performed the song together at Lollapalooza Brazil. And "Shadow" is available for download on streaming services.

“I’ve been all over the world through the money I make busking," Iro said on the show. "Somebody could say that you’re playing on the street, but the way I like to see it is that you’re playing on the biggest stage in the world. It gives me a sense of freedom. You’re playing your own songs, and you know what works."

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Israeli songwriter is out of the 'shadows,' thanks to rapper Macklemore
Iro, a full-time street musician from Tel Aviv, skyrocketed to the top of the hip-hop charts after Macklemore picked his song to record on 'Songland.'