Issue #13 "We humanize these superheroes”

A conversation with Jeff and Eric Rosenthal of ItsTheReal.

Photo Source: ItsTheReal

This week, perspectivves connected with the NYC-based hip hop sketch comedy duo, ItsTheReal, co-founded by brothers Jeff and Eric Rosenthal. They’ve got critically-acclaimed podcasts like 2 Jews & 2 Black Dudes Review the Movies with the legendary rap crew, The Lox. Their other main podcast, A Waste of Time, features thoughtful and highly-entertaining long-form conversations with the likes of Rick Ross, Birdman, Bun B, Royce Da 5’9, Russ and other greats of the genre. They reside in the Upper West Side and have spent over a decade putting out original parody videos, developed TV shows, and have a debut album out called Teddy Bear Fresh. It would be an understatement to say that ItsTheReal has had a great impact on the culture. But we wanted to learn more about the two creatives behind this digital media empire that’s garnered the attention of millions of eyeballs on the internet. So we flipped the tables on Jeff and Eric and asked them questions about their careers on our very own podcast, In Conversation With... Be sure to raise the volume up for this issue and enjoy a transcribed preview of our chat below.

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Ziv: A big part of the work that you guys do and the content you put out revolves around your relationship with New York City. Talk about that connection. 

Eric: I think that there’s a New York energy that a lot of people talk about, but living here and experiencing it is something different. It’s not just walking fast, it’s like walking with a purpose. And for us, I think that a lot of our career is due to the fact that we live in New York and really became New Yorkers.

Ziv: Yeah, every time I visit, the air just feels different. It has a vibe, unlike any other place.   

Eric: It’s both a matter of the people who live here and also I think when you visit you want to not be seen as an outsider. You want to join in. So I think people add to that go-getter [mentality] and it just is contagious. If you look at anything we’ve done over the course of our career, you can all say that it’s benefited from being in New York City.

Jeff: Yeah, especially because we’ve done so much from our actual apartment. We weren’t going to people, people were coming to us. I think that the ability to not only be in the mix but to create our own sh*t within the context of the city mattered. 

Eric: Jeff and I were living in the city for a year at this point and we went to a party and Just Blaze was the DJ there. We did not know him personally, but we were such huge fans of him and we just wanted to introduce ourselves at the end of the night. So we did. We took him aside and explained who we were and he said, “I love your guys’ stuff and anytime you guys want to hang out, let me know.” In what world does that actually happen? And it only happens because we put in the work and we live in New York City and we made the relationships to be in that room and then get that opportunity. Now, if the story ends there it’s great. But the fact that we did meet up with him, spent a number of hours hanging out and just nerding out on Roc-A-Fella stuff with one of our heroes, Just Blaze, and that that relationship continues for a decade is mind-blowing. But that doesn’t happen anywhere else. It is such a New York City thing. 

Yarden: How do you guys approach interviewing your guests? For instance, someone like Birdman who has a reputation for being difficult?  

Jeff: The angle that a lot of interviewers take is one of two things: you are either trying to sh*t on them or you’re trying to blow them up and I think that we do neither. We’re not trying to do sh*tty things for clicks. We take a different track. As another example, when rapper Westside Gunn came over to our apartment for a conversation, he wouldn’t leave. He stood at the door and said, “I’m just so thankful that you guys asked me real questions.” And I think that that’s what we’ve become known for. We’re not the biggest interviewers out there, but I think that our respect is what our calling card is. People respect the sh*t out of our platform. 

Eric: Here’s what’s really important too about what we do. We humanize these superheroes. So, for example, Rick Ross can be this idea, this mythical figure, this untouchable superstar, but when you sit down in between us we could talk about whatever and we do. You get to the core of who these people are. Everyone’s a person and that’s just the reality of it. 

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

About the creators:

Yarden Haddi

Co-Creator & Host

Student in Photography at Ryerson University. Financial Director of Function Magazine.

Ziv Haddi

Co-Creator & Host

Editorial producer at Zoomer Radio in Toronto, alumnus of the Master of Media in Journalism and Communication program at Western University, and a former intern at q on CBC Radio.

Made with chutzpah in Toronto.