Jeff and Eric Rosenthal are a quirky duo of Jewish white guys (brothers, but not twins) who are two emerging voices in hip-hop that you should get familiar with. If you don’t already know them, here’s a brief primer: They started out at their parents’ house in Harrison, New York, making absolutely hilarious videos skewering various aspects of hip-hop culture and rap music; now, they’re full-fledged stars in their own right.
ItsTheReal demonstrated their love for hip-hop by poking fun at both the most famous, and the most obscure references they could find, with sketches like “My Dog Earl,” which imagines an ’80s sitcom featuring DMX and Scott Storch as roommates (inspired by the former hiding out at the latter’s mansion while on the run from drug and animal cruelty charges in 2008), “If It Was All So Bey-Z” which lampooned the complicated web of late-’90s/early-’00s rap beef, and “Ghostwriters On Strike” which theorized the outcome of rap’s myriad ghostwriters unionizing.
The videos are screamingly funny still, and eventually caught the eyes of several of the entertainers they spent so much time teasing (cough, Joe Budden); rather than strike back on wax or in the streets, many of the sketches’ targets joined in the fun, playing themselves in ironic or hyperbolic situations, like the time hardcore battle rappers Slaughterhouse reorganized into a ‘90s-style smooth-talking R&B boy band.
When they managed to transition from sketch comedy to interviewing rappers at festivals for MTV, it seemed clear that the brothers were destined for greatness, however cliche that sounds. But even I was floored in 2013 when they swerved left into seriously making their own rap music, with the aptly-titled Urbane Outfitters, Vol. 1 mixtape; it skewed funny, but was actually pretty good. They showed a knack for wordplay and beat selection, but the project was taken over the top by guest appearances from rap luminaries like Freeway, Maino, and Bun B, just a few names ItsTheReal’s massive rap Rolodex has accumulated over the past decade.
They didn’t stop there, changing lanes yet again with their 2015 podcast entitled A Waste Of Time With ItsTheReal, where they’ve profiled and interviewed both artists like D.R.A.M., Kyle, Cardi B, and Killer Mike, among many other marquee names, along with behind-the-scenes industry power movers like Angela Yee, Sickamore, Peter Rosenberg, Kim Osorio, and Lenny S. The show has become so popular they decided to take the show live to New York’s Highline Ballroom on July 26th, staging a Roc-a-Fella Records reunion with Chaka Pilgrim, Emory Jones, Just Blaze, Young Guru, and Freeway.
Then, instead of resting on their laurels, ten years deep in the game, they released Teddy Bear Fresh, their debut album, in May of this year. The album features Michael Christmas, Smoke DZA, and Curren$y, and along with A Waste Of Time, is one of the many, many reasons hip-hop fans should get to know this New York-based multi-hyphenate duo. I recently spoke with the brothers to help highlight them as emerging voices in the genre, read our conversation below.