It’s the Real, ‘Urbane Outfitters Vol. 1′ – Mixtape Review
Over the past few years, comedy duo It's the Real have made a name for themselves by poking fun at hip-hop. Now the team has taken their rap-influenced jokes to a whole other level, dropping their first mixtape, 'Urbane Outfitters Vol. 1.'
The Yonkers-bred, er, emcees, Jeff and Eric Rosenthal, have been toying around with the concept for a while but this is their first full body of work. The idea of creating a sort of satire music album isn't necessarily a new one -- "Weird Al" Yankovich was good for making those back in the 1990s -- but hip-hop has never had one.
The best thing about the Rosenthal boys is the fact that fans can tell that the two genuinely love hip-hop -- they aren't putting on an act. They understand the ironies behind the music and the idiosyncrasies of the people that write the verses. They understand comedic timing but what's surprising is that It's the Real also understand actual timing in music.
Their bars are well-written and clever. Their one-liners and punchlines pop as if they've been making these tapes for years. Most surprisingly, on 'Urbane Outfitters,' It's the Real prove themselves to be actual students of rap.
The project kicks off with DJ Drama on the mic, mocking himself at the top of his lungs: "It's the one and only DJ Drama. Some people don't like when it when DJs talk this s--- over a mixtape, but 'Urbane Outfitters' isn't a mixtape. It's a movement! Actually, it's bigger than a movement! It's a Tumblr!"
Those opening words set the tone of the project as the Rosenthals move smoothly over production from Greg Mayo and Tha Bizness. Possibly the most interesting fact about 'Urbane Outfitters' is the caliber of guest features that signed on to contribute. Notable emcees like Bun B, Maino and Freeway make appearances.
Even Lil Jon pops up on the uber-catchy 'Just to Make Dough' -- a boastful track full of colorful, extraordinary claims that "real" rappers make all the time. "I'm retiring before my first release date / Rap was a building block but now I f--- with real estate / Working construction / Yeah that's how I 'raise the roof' / I'm out there selling alcohol, it's called Recession-Proof... I'm into selling out, not into selling rap."
'Beef Wit Us' with Maino is easily one of the best tracks on the project. It's definitely not what one would expect out of the Brooklyn rapper. The song opens up with It's the Real stunting on their opposition: "You don't want beef with us (or our friend Maino) / We bring the streets with us (our friend Maino) / We carry heat with us (our friend Maino) / You can't compete with us (or our friend Maino)."
They go on to brag about what their "friend Maino" will do to anyone that they may have issues with. It's the quintessential "tough guy" track, only, the Rosenthal boys recognize that they aren't tough so they walk Maino onto the song thinking he'll drop some ferocious bars about how gritty he can be when crossed.
Instead, Maino is docile and nasally, rapping, "I don't know this Maino that they're talking 'bout / 'Cause I don't like problems / I'd rather talk it out / I'd rather speak to you / So we can squash the beef / I'm not a violent man / And I don't pack heat..." By the track's end, the Rosenthals end up backtracking over every tough threat made at the top of the record. Hilarity.
Overall, 'Urbane Outfitters Vol. 1' is a smart, well-thought out project. It's always a great thing to see fans of a culture find inspiration and stretch boundaries to create something new. Especially when they can convince the toughest rappers that it's good to laugh at themselves sometimes.
Listen to It's the Real's 'Urbane Outfitters Vol. 1'