The Lonely Island's First Real Rap Interview

The Lonely Island's First Real Rap InterviewInterview by Justin Monroe; Photography by F. Scott Schafer

Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer are comedians fronting like a rap group. We help them live out the hip-hop dream with their realest interview ever.

This feature appears in Complex's June/July 2011 issue.

If Young Jeezy is your favorite rapper’s favorite trapper, The Lonely Island is his favorite nerdy white comedy troupe that makes funny rap songs as a side hustle. Since joining Saturday Night Live’s cast and writing crew in September 2005, childhood pals Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have made an indelible mark on the sketch show—and, surprisingly, the music world—with music videos that mock rap and the group members. Joints like “Lazy Sunday,” “I’m on a Boat” (with T-Pain), and “Dick in a Box” (with Justin Timberlake) exploded on the Internet, leading to The Lonely Island dropping its debut album, Incredibad, in 2009. 

With the group’s sophomoric sophomore effort, Turtleneck & Chain, out now and winning on the strength of recent hits “I Just Had Sex” (with Akon) and “The Creep” (with Nicki Minaj), Complex decided it was time to stop treating these dudes like comedians who rap and give them a straight-up rap interview. If you want to know what it’s like working with Lorne Michaels, peep every other Q&A they’ve done. This time, it’s strictly stunts, blunts, and hip-hop. A one-two, a one-two, here we go.

How would you describe Lonely Island’s “movement?”
Akiva: Bowels, clearly.
Andy: The Not Rappers Movement?

What atmosphere do y’all like in the studio?

You know what I say about catching feelings: never that. —Andy

Andy: We like the atmosphere from ’80s action movies like Cobra. We’ll pump a lot of haze and smoke in.
Akiva: It traps the light in the room, makes it feel kind of like church.
Andy: Yeah, you wanna be on the mic believing that doves might fly through at any moment…and then gunfire.

Does your entourage roll through?
Andy: We have occasional visits from various wives…people delivering food.
Akiva: We keep it very private—more like, I imagine, Sting records. Much like Sting.
Andy: I would almost describe it as a tantric experience—very slow and grinding. Minus the sex part.

Are there any skeletons in your closets? What’s hurting your street credibility?
Andy: Everything? You kind of have to have street cred to lose it, so in that regard we’re doing great.
Akiva: We’re going straight at zero, it’s a flat line the whole time.
Jorma: If you can get lower than zero, then we have lost street cred.

“Lazy Sunday” had a lyrical backpacker vibe, but then “On a Boat” was super materialistic—wassup with that?
Andy: Mo’ money, mo’ problems, really.

Which of you is most likely to do a stint in jail?
Andy: Jorm.
Akiva: Yeah, Jorm.
Jorma: Yes.

Why would you get knocked?
Jorma: Whatever it was, it was sexual.
Andy: More like failure to renew your driver’s license.
Jorma: Yeah, I’ve got a pending misdemeanor. I’m dealing with it right now, actually.
Akiva: He caught a case! He didn’t take the picture for his expired license, and then he was driving with it thinking he had renewed it. He’s a real bad boy.
Andy: That should write your “99 Problems,” Jorm.
Akiva: What’s worse, Jorm: catching a case or catching feelings?
Jorma: You know it’s catching feelings!
Andy: You know what I say about catching feelings: never that.

Tags: the-lonely-island, andy-samberg
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