Two of the most potent forces in the nebulous arena of “Hip-Hop Comedy” are the sketch comedians/personalities ItsTheReal and frequent Noisey contributor The Kid Mero, as evidenced by a recent New York Times piece detailing the exploits of each party. In addition to writing for us, Mero is working with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend on a treatment about working in public schools, and ItsTheReal just released their debut mixtape Urbane Outfitters, hosted by DJ Drama and featuring guest appearances from such hip-hop luminaries as Bun B, Freeway, and Lil Jon. The first single “Beef with Us” is directed by Ric Cordero and features the heretofore assumed to be gravely serious Maino sending up his own harder-than-dolomite persona.
A couple weeks ago, ItsTheReal (otherwise known as the brothers Jeff and Eric Rosenthal) and Mero (Joel Martinez to those who know him outside of the Internet) sat down in a VICE conference room with Noisey and Skinny Friedman, and talked about pretty much everything under the sun. What follows is an extremely edited transcript of their conversation.
THE KID MERO: MY MAN PUT ME ON TO ITSTHEREAL WHEN WE WERE SITTING IN HIS CRIB AND HE WAS LIKE YO CHECK THIS OUT. THE FIRST SKIT IVE SEEN YOU GUYS DID A VALENTINES DAY SKIT. THIS WAS YEARS AGO. IT WAS LIKE DJ AIRHORN OR SOME SHIT. I DONT EVEN REMEMBER THE REST OF THE SKIT, BUT THAT SHIT STUCK WITH ME. I'D BE IN THE SHOWER AND JUST LAUGHING ABOUT THIS SHIT WITH MY LOOFA AND SHIT.
Eric Rosenthal: We had DJ Airhorn, we had DJ Fuck-A-Bitch, we had DJ Gun-Go-Bang. Then we had Peter Rosenberg appear at the end where he was like, "Just want to send a shout-out to all the lovers out there." Then he decided to take his own spin on it and he decided to take a banana and go to town on it. And we were like, "Alright no doubt."
Jeff Rosenthal: It was originally supposed to be DJ Green Lantern and he hit us up afterwards was like, "Yo, that banana bite was wild!"
LAST TIME I SPOKE TO YOU I HAD THE FRENCH MONTANA MAC AND CHEESE ON HEAVY ROTATION IN THE CAR. SO BEFORE I GOT THE MIXTAPE I JUST HAD THE SONG "I’M A COKE BOY" BUT IT WAS BIG MIKE. THE SONG STARTS AND FRENCH MONTANA SAYS SOME SHIT THEN BIG MIKE STARTS GOING "YOU’RE A MOTHERFUCKING PROBLEM! " *GUNSHOT* "YOU’RE A MOTHERFUCKING PROBLEM, BOY! COKE BOYS! " *GUNSHOT GUNSHOT* SO EVERYTIME I PLAY THIS SHIT IN THE CAR I HAVE TO FAST FORWARD THROUGH THIS SHIT CUZ IT STARTS THE SONG LIKE THIS. ANYWAYS, ON SCALE OF ZERO TO GUCCI MANE, HOW ASHY ARE MY HANDS RIGHT NOW?
Eric:Those are some Guwap hands.
WHEN YOU NIGGAS STARTED DOING COMEDY DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO DO RAP COMEDY?
Eric: It was hip-hop comedy all the way. The Internet at that point in 2007 was filled with everyone wanting to be a sketch comedian. Now how do you fit in there? We decided to start our own niche and be a big fish in a small pond. We love hip hop and we love comedy.
Jeff: Eric just stopped working with Kanye…
WHAT WERE YOU DOING WITH HIM?
Eric: I was Kanye's videographer for a little bit. I went to the Grammys with him. Their managers were great people and they took me out to his first Grammys. They took a white kid from Westchester and put me with all these Chicago goons in the best sense. They looked out for me and treated me like family. I will never say a bad word about any of them. They were just phenomenal. During the biggest week of his life and they invited me which is amazing.
Jeff: Eric has spent more time with Kanye than Cyhi did.
Eric: Jeff was working at HBO.
Jeff: We were trying to team up with AOL, which is the most divergent two brands that could possibly come together. The highbrow HBO and the AOL wanting to make jokes about Paris Hilton for 50 slides and telling me I was going too hard on Paris Hilton for some reason.
Eric: We have a perspective, we have a voice. So we decided to put out a video. Our first video we did was deconstructing Biggie where we took, "You're mad cause my style you're admiring / don't be mad UPS is hiring," and looked at it from the perspective of the UPS driver—who hated it—and the Fedex drivers thought it was the best thing ever. The video did 40,000 views in a night and no one knew who we were and we decided to do it again next week. The thing that really set us apart was consistency and quality. You knew every Monday morning you were going to find us and it was going to be good. The second video was us throwing a retirement party for Lloyd Banks and he didn't show up. We had his face on a cake that said "Good Luck Banks."
Jeff: That was when HBO was going way downhill in terms of the website so we threw the party in their offices. We were like, “Fuck it,” since I wasn’t going to be working here much longer.
YO HOW GOOD IS KANYE WEST’S COCAINE? THAT SHIT MUST BE THE ILLEST.
Eric: I have no idea!
Jeff: Man, Eric's hair used to be straight, but ever since…
KAYNE GOT TO HAVE THAT GOOD BLOW MAN BECAUSE HE'S FUCKING KIM KARDASHIAN. COME ON. YOU CAN'T BE FUCKING A KARDASHIAN WITHOUT IT. YOU ARE TWO JEWISH DUDES FROM WESTCHESTER AND THERE'S A LOT OF OLD BLACK NIGGAS ON THE INTERNET WHO ARE LIKE *IN OLD MAN VOICE* "WHITE PEOPLE CAN'T DO ANYTHING RELATED TO HIP HOP. IT'S OUR CULTURE." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NIGGAS WHO SAY SHIT LIKE THAT?
Eric: We had a meeting at BET once with one of their high up executives.
Jeff: Just like a meet-and-greet.
Eric: It was set up by a friend of ours, and he felt that it would be good to just introduce us and maybe talks about a way for us to work together.
Jeff: The interns recognized us when we walked in and were waving at us. There was confetti coming out.
Eric: The first question executive said was, "Why do you feel like you can comment on my culture?" We were like like, "Whoa."
Jeff: It just went downhill from there.
Eric: What we did say was that we loved Arrested Development and she was all like, "The TV show?" And we were like, "No the group. What do you mean?"
Jeff: She actually said that. That's not even a joke. Eric was talking about how he grew up on Arrested Development and she was just like, "Oh my god, I love that show." And we were like…
Eric: Yeah! Yeah! What we should have said was everyone we worked with. She had no idea what we did so we should have listed everyone like Joe Budden and Cam'ron and Clipse.
YOU SEEM TO BE COOL BUT DO YOU EVER DISS PEOPLE? CUZ I FEEL LIKE WHEN I MAKE FUN OF NIGGAS THEY GET UPSET WHICH IS COOL BECAUSE I BEAT THEM UP.
Jeff: I don't think anyone has gotten too upset…well that's not true. Jae Millz got upset.
Eric: Jae Millz definitely got upset.
YEAH BECAUSE HE'S UPSET AT LIFE. HE AIN'T UPSET WITH YOU NIGGAS. HE'S UPSET THAT HE'S CLEANING LIL WAYNE'S RUGS RIGHT NOW.
Eric: There are certain people who don't like what we do, but we're lucky that a lot of people see it as roasting. We’re poking because we love. We love hip-hop and we love comedy and we just felt like there was a natural place for that, and that's where we fit in. More people want to work with us and show that they're funny. That's like someone like Joe Budden, who’s an emotional guy and very invested in how serious his music is, is willing to play our games. Like come to our apartment and like when he was dating Tahiri and have her sit ass-up on our couch. Or like Cam. Cam loves Curb Your Enthusiasm. So he was like, "Oh I'll definitely say whatever lines you wrote down for me.” That respect initially came from when Bun B reached out and once Bun B does something…
OH HE'S A TRILL OG. HE'S THE TRILLEST OF THE TRILL. ANYWAYS, PRE-COMEDY VERSUS POST-COMEDY, WHERE IS THE PUSSY AT? IS IT THE SAME AMOUNT OF PUSSY? ARE YOU GETTING WAY MORE PUSSY? DO YOU HAVE GROUPIES?
Eric: Dude, Internet videos do so much…
YO BECAUSE I’M JUST ON THE INTERNET TALKING SHIT AND BITCHES BE ALL LIKE, "OHHH OHHH."
Eric: I've been stopped in the streets in New York, in Los Angeles, in Atlantic City. It's cool.
IN ATLANTIC CITY BY LEGITIMATE FEMALES OR HOOKERS?
Jeff: Are there any legitimate females in Atlantic City?
EVEN THE BITCHES WHO ARE THERE TO HANG OUT LOOK LIKE HOOKERS.
Eric: These weren't women, but in Los Angeles we were out there for business and we were staying at a vacation rental. It's near a Trader Joe's so we went there to get some groceries. We decide to walk. No one in Los Angeles walks, but we're New Yorkers so we decide to huff it for like two blocks. The first block is fine, but at the next block this black car with the darkest tint pulls a u-turn right in front one of us and jumps the sidewalk and parks right in front of us. We're either going to get shot or get asked for directions and either way we're screwed. The window lowers, and this is like 2009, and they're like, "Jeff and Eric? I'm a huge fan of your work!" You couldn't have sent us an email or something? You had to jump a curb? And he goes, "Well I'm a screenwriter and my uncle did the beat for a Tupac song." And we're like, "Of course you did." He said he wanted to fly us out for his movie and we knew we weren't going to ever hear from him again. We never did.
THAT HAPPENS A LOT. HOLLYWOOD NIGGAS ISN'T LIKE ANY OTHER INDUSTRY B. CAUSE LIKE, IF ME YOU AND YOU ARE FUCKIN SKATEBOARDERS, NIGGA, AND I’M LIKE, “YO, HIT ME UP LET’S SKATE,” WE’LL GET UP, WE’LL SKATE. NO FUNNY SHIT. HOLLYWOOD IS STRICTLY FUNNY SHIT, B, CUZ NIGGAS WILL HIT YOU UP LIKE, “I’M A SCREENWRITER, WHATEVER WHATEVER, LET’S WORK ON SOMETHING, SEND ME NOTES.” YOU’LL SEND A NIGGA 20 PAGES AND HE’LL BE LIKE, “GREAT I’LL SEND YOU SOME NOTES AND LET’S GET TO WORK.” NIGGAS NEVER HIT YOU BACK. OR A PRODUCER BE LIKE, “I REALLY WANNA WORK ON BLAHBLAHBLAH.”
Eric: So you’re never gonna move to Hollywood?
AIGHT, GOING BACK THE PUSSY THING. THIS IS A REAL QUESTION I WROTE FOR REAL RAP NIGGAS. I CONSIDER YOU REAL RAP NIGGAS. 300 STATEMENTS, RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW HOW ICE CUBE HAS THAT LINE “PICKED UP A GIRL I BEEN TRYINA FUCK SINCE THE 12TH GRADE?” GIRL YOU BEEN WANTING TO FUCK SINCE THE 12TH GRADE. SHE’S BAD. YOU’RE AT HER CRIB. FOR SOME REASON, SHORTY DIES. YOU’RE ABOUT TO SMASH, BUT SHE DIES. WOULD YOU STILL SMASH, EVEN THOUGH SHE’S DEAD? LIKE SHE JUST DIED, IT’S NOT LIKE SHE GOT STABBED. LIKE SHE’S STILL WARM.
Jeff: Before you answer, I like you prefaced it like, “This is for rappers.” Oh yeah, rappers fuck dead girls.
Eric: This is a comedy rap project, so maybe I’d fuck her funny?
PUT A CLOWN OUTFIT ON AND SMASH?
Eric: Oh my god, there’s so much to unpack here. Would I fuck a dead girl, body still warm? I feel like that would be disrespectful.
Jeff: If people only knew what you were writing on the train.
SO WHEN I WAS SITTING ON THE TRAIN, I WAS LIKE “I’M NOT GONNA ASK THESE NIGGAS BOUT THE ALBUM.” THE ONE QUESTION THAT I WAS GONNA SK YOU IS TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ALBUM IN YOUR BEST MERO IMPRESSION. YOU HAVE CARTE BLANCHE TO SAY NIGGA, I’M GIVING YOU A TWO HOUR NIGGA PASS.
Jeff: Very luxurious…
Eric: You gotta yell it.
Jeff: It would be something around very luxurious.
Eric: We need a buncha just four-syllable words…
Jeff: What’s the most impressive chain you’ve seen in person?
IN PERSON? AND THIS IS NOT EVEN A RAP DUDE. I’VE SEEN SOME DUDE IN A CLUB UPTOWN THAT HAD ON—FOR A SECOND I THOUGHT HE WAS FRENCH MONTANA BECAUSE HE HAD THE PILLSBURY COKE BOY SHIRT, THE COCAINE CITY THING, LIKE HOLDING A WAD OF MONEY AND A MUFFIN IN THE OTHER HAND. BUT HE HAD A FUCKIN’ ICED-OUT FELIX THE CAT HEAD, BUT THE SHIT WAS MAD BIG. I WAS LIKE, “THIS SHIT IS FAKE, DOG.” CUZ THE SHIT WAS MAD BIG, I’M NOT EVEN JOKING. IT LOOKED LIKE A PLATE. I WAS LIKE DOG, WHY DO YOU HAVE FELIX THE CAT? CAUSE I’VE SEEN GUCCI MANE HAVE ODIE AND BART SIMPSON, I’M LIKE THAT’S WEIRD, THAT’S RANDOM. DID THIS DUDE SEE GUCCI MANE IN A VIDEO AND WAS LIKE “IMA GOOGLE OBSCURE CARTOONS AND SHIT, BOUT TO COME OUT WITH A TINTIN CHAIN.”
Jeff: I saw Gorilla Zoe have a giant gorilla cage with a gorilla in it.
WHO’S THE DUDE THAT HAS THE CHAIN THAT HAS CUPS OF LEAN BUT LIKE WITH ICE IN IT?
Jeff: RiFF RAFF.
HAVE YOU GUYS MET RiFF RAFF?
Jeff: No we haven’t met him. We went to the show. I thought it was good.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK, DO YOU THINK HE’S A DUDE THAT’S ACTUALLY THAT DUDE OR DO YOU THINK HE’S A CHARACTER?
Jeff: I feel like that’s the thing everybody wonders.
WHO’S ON THE ALBUM?
Jeff: Bun B, Maino, Lil Jon.
Jeff: Maino’s on the first single. And the video, shot by Rik Cordero is amazing. It’s so funny. It’s Maino as you’ve never seen him before.
MAINO DOES NOT SEEM LIKE THE TYPE OF NIGGA THAT YOU WOULD APPROACH AND BE LIKE, “LET’S MAKE FUN OF YOU, MAINO.”
Eric: He’s all about it. He has an amazing sense of humor. Talk about guys who get it.
Jeff: He showed up to our apartment at like three in the morning on a Friday night, and we drove around with him in his Bentley for like an hour, listening to our music. He’s like, “You motherfuckers got it right!” He’s like slamming on the gas. We’re like, how in the world are we gonna explain this to our relatives?
Eric: Everybody that we chose to work with on this has a good sense of humor. Cause if you’re gonna get on this project, you shouldn’t be boring.
THAT’S WHAT’S UP.
Eric: It’s luxurious.
Jeff: It’s very luxurious.
Eric: We’re flourishing, it’s very bountiful.
THIS SHIT IS EXORBITANT, MY NIGGA. SO WAS THERE ANYBODY THAT Y’ALL APPROACHED THAT WAS LIKE “GET THE FUCK OUT.”
Jeff: Nobody was outright like, “Fuck it.” It was more like, rappers are terrible about deadlines, and so you hit them up and they’re like, “I got you,” and you’re like “do you really got me, or…?” So it was a lot of toeing that line.
Eric: Cause you think Hollywood is Hollywood, well, rap is rap. Who else? We had a beat by The Bizness. And the rest of the tracks are done by our best friend Greg Mayo.
SO THIS IS MAJOR LABEL DUDES. YOU GOT ANY INDIE DUDES?
Eric: Maybe on the next one.
OH SO FUNNY PEOPLE, FUNNY COLLABORATIONS.
Jeff: Volume Two!
Eric: WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? SAY IT IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
THIS SAYS A LOT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON. AND I WROTE THIS AS A JOKE BUT IT’S ACTUALLY KINDA REAL: WHAT IS YOUR START PAGE ON YOUR BROWSER.
Jeff: Mine’s lame.
WHAT IS IT, LIKE GOOGLE?
Eric: Mine’s Yahoo. I don’t do anything with it.
Jeff: I don’t even see my home page.
I CHANGED IT TO A P-NO WEBSITE ONCE WHEN I WAS REALLY LONELY, THEN I CHANGED IT TO WORLDSTARHIPHOP. IF YOUR START PAGE IS WORLDSTARHIPHOP YOU’RE EITHER REALLY RACIST ON THE LOW OR YOU DIDN’T FINISH HIGH SCHOOL.
Jeff: Which one are you?
THE KID MERO can be found dispensing #KNOWLEDGE on Twitter here - @THEKIDMERO