It all started with an "I'mma let you finish": Back in 2009, brothers Eric and Jeff Rosenthal were a tad torn up about the disappearance of Kanye West after his interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs. Best known for their web videos poking fun at the hip-hop they loved (and some they didn't) made under the moniker ItsTheReal, the brothers decided to try their hand at rapping and put together a tribute video in the vein of Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" to honor the then-maligned MC. The clip took off, setting the stage for "My Girl's a Republican," which led to grumblings from the Tea Party and high-fives around the Thanksgiving table, as Eric recalls. The end result: On April 1st, the Rosenthals will release their first hip-hop comedy mixtape, Urbane Outfitters – and now you can grab a free download to its Bun B-featuring cut, "Girls with the Dirty Souths."
"It seemed like the most logical thing, to break down that fourth wall and become rappers after roasting them in our videos," says Jeff of Urbane Outfitters' origins. "We wanted to show different facets of ourselves, so all these things together put us in a place where hopefully television can't say no to us."
Much of the tape was produced by Greg Mayo, who constructed a trunk-rattling beat with rumbling bass synths and holier-than-thou organs for "Girls with the Dirty Souths" that cries out for, and receives, Bun B's husky, molasses drawl. A longtime fan of ItsTheReal and friend of the Rosenthals, Bun was the first MC the Rosenthals hit up when putting together Urbane's guest list, which also landed cameos by Freeway, Maino and Lil Jon.
"It was very important to have someone who got it and who understood it be the first one that we approached," says Eric. "And after that it was easy to be like, 'Well Bun B's a part of this.' And people followed."
While Urbane Outfitters marks the Rosenthals' first full foray into rapping, the duo approached it as they would one of their short-form sketches, which have led to gigs for MTV and Bonnaroo. "We would go to the studio and we knew we had a topic in mind, we had an idea in mind, and we were just sort of driven and focused and the words came out in rhymes," says Eric.
For "Girls with the Dirty Souths," the duo came up with a tongue-in-cheek ode to, er, hairy nether-regions, the brothers trading putrid punchlines like, "She stays away from trimming the pitch/She calls it Auto-Tuning," and "Get rid of that bush?/That's change I can't believe in."
It's goofy, it's fun and driven by the Rosenthals' desire to, as Eric puts it, find "the perfect balance between reality and ridiculousness." He adds: "We wanted it to be different than the Lonely Island and different than Weird Al. We wanted to create our own lane with it where we could walk this fine line where it sounds so real but what we say is so crazy."
As for the driving force behind Urbane Outfitters? "I think we're just trying to get signed to Bad Boy Records," deadpans Jeff, before the two let out a laugh. "I think that's the goal."