#Dabeeside Exclusive Interview with @ItsTheReal
I’ve been watching the movement of Jeff and Eric Rosenthal aka ItstheReal online since 2008. I first learned about them through the “I Can Make Famous” blog, Myspace and Sickamore. I always felt like their brand of comedy was perfect for the hip-hop industry. They were the first hip-hop sketch comedy duo and these guys continue to work hard to make waves in this crazy music business. Not to mention, they have shouted me out plenty of times on their podcast show. It’s only right I show the love back. Check out this interview with my boys ItsTheReal. Blaow Blaow blaow lol.
Eric, you went to school for filmmaking and then worked with Kanye West. What made you want to come up with an idea to do hip-hop comedy sketch videos?
ERIC: I remember pulling into a friend’s driveway and I heard a commercial on the radio for a new show on the TV network Fuse; it was to be their version of Yo! MTV Raps or something, they kept saying how authentic it would be, and it sounded anything but. And so, sitting there in the car, with no experience in television, no connections in the business, and no drawn-out plan, I thought: if I wanted to, I could make a better show than this. And then I thought: why not. Around that time, Jeff graduated from college, we put together a three-pronged idea to pitch around, no one bought it, and so we took the part that was easiest for us to write/shoot/edit/produce ourselves on a consistent basis (sketch comedy with a hip-hop focus), and made it an actual weekly program on YouTube.
Jeff, I remember when the videos just said: “The Real” Which video was the one that really caught the attention of the hip-hop world?
JEFF: I don’t want to come across like we were immediately popular, but the first two videos we did (where we deconstructed Biggie’s UPS lyrics and threw Lloyd Banks an early retirement party) were really big. Later on, we put together the seating chart at Jay-Z and Beyonce’s wedding, where every rapper hated each other and no one wanted to sit at the table. But there were others that didn’t do so well, too! Like when Nelly was my imaginary friend or when I saw the image of LL Cool J burned in my toast. Those were a little too, uh, thinky.
In 2013, you guys put out a mixtape with DJ Drama called “Urbane Outfitters”. How hard was it to complete a full project?
ERIC: The toughest part for me was deciding what “complete” meant. Being that it was our first widespread music project, we had no label or management to give us any instruction, and yet we set the highest expectations for ourselves, we didn’t know when to stop tinkering. We kept recording and recording and recording with no real end in sight, but thanks to our friend David Cho for pushing us to pick a release date, we focused our ambitions, decided it was complete, and put our art into the world. Equally tough: getting the verse that Jadakiss still owes us.
Which one of you is the better rapper?
JEFF: Eric, no question. I’m the Silkk the Shocker to his Master P.
Eric, you guys had a podcast that was called “Hype Men”. It seems to be a little bit ahead of the curve as far as hip-hop podcast were at that time. Who was your favorite guest and why?
ERIC: There were a lot of fun episodes from Hype Men: talking about crossing paths during the Kanye days with A-Trak, discussing SNL with Bobby Moynihan, laughing uncontrollably with Julieanne “Boobs Radley” Smolinski, and catching up with our real-life friend Scott Vener. But the one that probably stands above all other episodes was the Just Blaze one because that was the first time he really spoke at length about his entire career, and for huge fans like us, it meant everything to go down memory lane with him.
Jeff, you and Dan are twins and Eric is the oldest right? But who was the one responsible for y’all being hip-hop heads?
JEFF: Maybe Dan? Dan doesn’t get enough credit just because he wears a suit now. He bought/asked our parents for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince “Boom! (Shake The Room)” on cassette. But obviously Eric was super influential — he had a jump start on us. Like, I was too young for Doggystyle when it came out. It was way more appropriate for Eric, who was in middle school.
“A Waste of Time” is one of my favorite podcasts. You guys recently partnered with Loud Speakers Network. Coming from a hip-hop sketch comedy where you guys had that locked, do you feel like the podcast game is overcrowded or it’s enough space for everybody?
JEFF: I wish Podcast Wars were real. I’m probably the only person that doesn’t think there are too many podcasts. I think the problem right now is that people are only trying out two formats: barbershop talk and interviews — NORE’s doing barbershop interviews, so maybe that’s three. When people get more adventurous, then it won’t seem so crowded. Or maybe we’ll all just interview each other to death.
You guys have a new mixtape on the way called “Teddy Bear Fresh”, can you tell us what producers and special features you are working with on this project?
ERIC: Like always, our musical partner is Greg Mayo, who we’ve been best friends with and worked alongside since we were very young kids. He’s a fantastic musical mind, very accomplished in his own right, and best of all, shares our sense of humor, which makes recording with him easy and elevates each some thematically, lyrically and sonically.
On February 23, you guys are performing live at NYC’s famed SOB’s. Tell us how this came about and are you guys nervous to perform at such a legendary location?
JEFF: I’m the nervous one, so yes, I’m nervous. This all happened because I was leaving a show at SOBs when I ran into the booker there. He asked, “When are you guys gonna perform here? I’ve been trying to make it happen for years!” So, it’s my fault. I worry now, but I know we’ve got some incredible things planned: Just Blaze is our DJ; we’ve got special guests. And having seen Drake, 2 Chainz and, uh, RiFF RAFF perform their first NYC shows there, we know we have a lot to live up to.
You guys have interviewed everybody from Stevie Wonder to Charlamagne Tha God. Who else do you have on your bucket list to interview?
ERIC: At this point, it’s no secret that within hip-hop, we’re excited for the day we’ll get to interview 2 Chainz, Lyor Cohen, French Montana and some others, but we’re also working on interviews outside music that’ll be compelling, inspiring, and hilarious. And if none of those workout, we’ll probably book our building’s super Ramon, who I feel won’t have any problem taking a couple hours out of his work day to do.
Eric, what are your top 3 AKAs from Jeff?
ERIC: There’s honestly so many – we’ve been doing them since 2008 – that it’s supremely difficult to find and narrow down to my top three, but here’s a few of Jeff’s that I think are great:
– Jeff AKA Helen Keller AKA So So Def
– Jeff AKA Breaking Down the Dutch AKA Germany
– Jeff AKA Smoking Phillies AKA New York Mets
Jeff, what are your top 3 AKAs from Eric?
JEFF: Ever? Eesh. I like it best when Eric takes something pop cultural from his childhood and makes it sound tough:
– Eric AKA Trap or Die AKA Oregon Trail
– Eric AKA Pushin’ the V AKA Mighty Ducks
– Eric AKA Indiana Jones AKA Whipping Foreigns
I want to thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me. I love the podcast and wish you guys much more success. Please let the supporters know where they can get tickets for the show and all of your content.
JEFF: Tickets for our headlining show at SOB’s on February 23rd can be found here: http://sobs.com/2016/9083/itsthereal and you can always find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud: @ItsTheReal. Snapchat, it’s tricky, because some sunovabitch took our name, so we’re ItsItsTheReal and ItsTheRealEric. Also, I’m usually at the grocery store.