Even casual rap blog readers can tell you about the monotony of reading through the same "copy and paste" content on any given day. Hip-Hop blog posts in 2013 mean one trailer, two teasers, three previews and four snippets will be released for every damn song or video premiere. Without curve-balls from guys like hip-hop comedy duo, ItsTheReal (Eric and Jeff Rosenthal), your favorite online hip-hop destinations undoubtly suffer from consecutive days of forgettable content. Since 2008, the brothers, who rep (South) Harlem the hardest, have flooded the 'Net with hilarious viral videos, skits and interviews with the likes of Bun B, Nick Cannon, Slaughterhouse, Max B and more. They've analyzed rap, laughed with rap, made us laugh at rappers and just about everything else in between. Earlier this week, on April Fool's Day, ItsTheReal debuted their first mixtape, Urbane Outfitters Vol. 1. Confused? Well, this definitely ain't no joke. Eric and Jeff recently broke down why they're Top Five: Dead or Alive, their new deal with Roc Nation and upcoming tour with Beyonce (Not really, but they did talk to us about their new project and future plans).
I know the mixtape has been a long time in the making, so why now?
Eric: If you look at our whole career, and we’ve been thinking about this recently. We’ve been working for five-and-a-half years on hip-hop sketch comedy, which is basically just a term that we made up about ourselves. It’s not like a real job or whatever. There's not a lot of hip-hop sketch comedians on LinkedIn [Laughs]. But we wanted to do things that we thought were fun and different. We never wanted to be boxed into any corners, so you had the sketches that we did for three-and-a-half years, every Monday, and the long form interviews that we did on our Hype Men podcast. Then, you have the short form interviews that we did with MTV.com and Bonnaroo. Now we’re just doing this fourth piece because it shows another side to us. We want to create a situation where people with power can’t say no to us. We’re multifaceted.
Jeff: Also, this is us. We’ve been dancing around all aspects of hip-hop and now finally we’re actually rapping.
I remember you guys did that Kanye, Taylor Swift song. Was that the catalyst for this mixtape?
Jeff: We were born to rap… [Laughs]
Eric: No, but for real it was late 2010 when we first started working on it. The way that we work generally is we come up with a concept first. It’s just like the sketch videos that we did. We want it to have its own voice, perspective and a theme around it because none of these songs are us trying to really be rappers. It’s comedy rap.
Jeff: But I think we do blur the line more than the other comedy rap acts. Weird Al does his thing and its kinda like just him doing spoof songs. You have Lonely Island which is very pop, and then you have us who have come from the hip-hop side of things.
Eric: We tried to stay true to what hip-hop is from our view point. We take all these tropes and we just flip them like we do with our sketches. Even with the videos, our first one with Maino was done by Rik Cordero. We have other videos planned with a bunch of amazing artists and directors. So we’re trying to stay as true to a mixtape as we can. We have Bun B, Lil Jon, Freeway and Maino. We have a beat by The Bizness and we have Hannibal Buress, the comedian, doing a skit on there.
Your own show needs to happen. When are we going to see you guys on TV?
Eric: For us, we’re always interested in television and think that it’s a really good spot for us and just natural progression. Hopefully, this side of us lead us perfectly in there. So we’ll see if that develops into something ‘Lyricist Loungey' or if it’s something more scripted in like a half-hour comedy series. Whatever the right idea is; we see television in our future.
The 'ItsTheReal’ Reality Show…
Jeff: Here’s the problem with our reality – us in the studio is the most boring thing ever. We’re sitting there listening to different snare drums and we’re like 'Yes, that’s the one. We’re exactly like Bun B [Laughs], we work from 9-5 and then we go home and have dinner at a reasonable time [Laughs]. There were times when we would go to the studio with real rappers just to be in a session with them and wait them out, so that we could actually talk about our mixtape stuff.
Eric: We waited in the studio with them while they were recording, writing and the whole thing and we’re trying to be pleasant people, just minding our own business... until it ends up being six in the morning and we’re just like ‘wow.’
I did catch you guys on the Mac Miller ‘Most Dope Family' reality show, though.
Eric: Yeah, it was awesome. Mac invited us out to be a part of it. He thought we would be a funny addition to this specific episode, where we meet Mac in a very different form. Honestly, we get along so well with Mac. We weren’t sure when we first met him what he’d be like – whether we’d be friends but he’s a super funny guy. He’s a great kid but he’s a good comedian, too. We really were taken back by that.
Let’s get into a quick cliché question. [Laughs] What is each of your favorite songs from the mixtape?
Jeff: My favorite song on the mixtape is probably “Girls From the Dirty South” with Bun B. I feel like Eric sets it up, I kinda elevate it and Bun knocks it out of the park. It’s just a great progression.
Eric: I’m going to say, the intro is my favorite song of the moment. It is the most bass heavy, basic song that you will ever hear. It’s very lyrical [Laughs]. We’re talking about Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Yasiin Bey. The people will love it. It gets right to the point. It’s called ‘It’s TheRealGang.’
Okay, so who’s Memphis Bleek and who’s Jay-Z here?
Jeff: First of all, I like Memphis Bleek. I will happily be the Memphis Bleek.
Eric: Jeff is Memphis Bleek [Laughs]
So, who’s Pusha and who’s Malice?
Jeff: You mean No Malice? [Laughs]
Eric: There’s not a lot of two people groups.
Jeff: Mobb Deep... we don’t hate each other though.
Eric: Not yet!
Jeff: Oh, Smilez and Southstar. I will be Southstar.
Eric: I’m Smilez. Huge in Orlando, that’s what we want to be. We want to be Disney World staples.
Say if some label comes calling, like if Diddy offers you a record deal…
Jeff: It’s crazy that that’s even a question. First of all, that’s the only place we would sign to. Bad Boy.
Eric: Bad Boy South. Bad Boy South Harlem.
Jeff: I feel like Young Joc has paved a way in terms of comedy rap. We would be the perfect compliment to that [Laughs].
Eric: If you were a record label would you sign us?
Um… Go download Urbane Outfitters now!