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Eric & Jeff Rosenthal
Eric & Jeff Rosenthal
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INTERVIEW
TOBi, ERIC & JEFF ROSENTHAL
Hosts of ItsTheReal Podcast
New York, NY
Shot by iPhone 12
PHOTOGRAPHY
MARK CLENNON
TOBi
It's 2020 and you're both veterans in hip-hop culture but with fresh energy. What makes you most excited to do what you do everyday with a renewed spirit? How do you stay tapped in?
ERIC & JEFF ROSENTHAL

It's easy to do one thing your whole life: write or rap or produce or paint or dance or whatever. The difficult thing is showcasing all your talents and ultimately delivering a complete picture. We're thirteen years into our career and we know we wouldn't be here today if we just stuck to one method of delivering the content. Some of the journey was planned, some was not; starting from scratch and building things up again is both scary and exciting, and is something that keeps us invigorated.

The last eight months have presented unique challenges: at the start of the quarantine, we dove in the deep end, producing a new daily audio + video podcast which featured three call-in guests... which we were hosting, booking, producing and editing ourselves! After three months of that ultimate grind, we decided to pause and take a week to really think about how we'd best use our time. The silence, the calm and the consideration have paid off big time for us, sending us in directions we'd never thought of before that are ambitious and creatively satisfying. None of the projects are the podcast our audience may be used to, nor are they operating on the schedule that people may have hoped for, but most importantly everything we're doing retains that singular ItsTheReal sensibility.

TOBi
Given the heavily political nature of this year, and songs like "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar, "Changes" by 2pac and "FDT" by Nipsey Hussle and YG having a resurgence, why do you think rap music has been so important to these movements?
ERIC & JEFF ROSENTHAL
There's a few reasons. America is a country where for many Black men and women, simply existing can be an act of protest, so you're not gonna have someone from outside that experience speaking for everybody. (Taylor Swift covering YG and Nip wouldn't really go off like it should. That being said, I'd be open to hearing it!) I think the songs you named hit that right tone, that right mood, in the same way that others like Grandmaster Flash, NWA, Queen Latifah and hundreds of others have done in the past. Marvin Gaye had "What's Going On?" in 1971. Chain gangs in the 1930s, slave songs in the 1800s. None of this is new. What makes rap especially potent is that it's the most dominant art form in the world, and that it's an incredibly personal one at that. So, you've got enormous artists using their platform and getting entry into households they normally wouldn't, changing minds one play at a time. Or at least that's the hope. It's been far too long, hoping for more than just the hope.
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