I didn’t learn about Lil Dicky through “Yo! MTV Raps,” Hot 97, Power 105 or any of the traditional outlets for emerging hip-hop artists. Instead, I first heard about Lil Dicky on Jensen Karp and Matthew Robinson’s “Get Up On This Podcast,” when Karp mentioned Dicky as one of the few funny rappers that he enjoyed.
The success of Dicky – a.k.a. David Burd – is intriguing for many reasons. First, he is headlining Irving Plaza before his first album (“Professional Rapper”) is released. Second, his career is an accident of sorts, since he apparently only started rapping while working on presentations at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Third, his career began with crowdfunding, rather than the common path of formerly-prominent artists moving over to a crowdfunding model after leaving the label world behind. Fourth, even though his debut album comes out in July, Dicky released 32 songs (15 of which with music videos) over the course of five months, even though he did not make his live debut until February 2014. Fifth, beyond his work as an MC, Dicky also has his foot in the comedy world as a writer, comic and actor. And this is without discussing the millions of YouTube streams, or the music itself.
In turn, Lil Dicky is a sign of the times, that artists no longer succeed entirely as a result of creativity, but that they often need intellect and work ethic to stand out. He kindly spoke to Downtown Magazine, pulling the curtain back a bit and explaining about what’s ahead for the Philadelphia-based artist.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard it?
Lil Dicky: I would say it’s the type of music that isn’t necessarily designed to listen to passively, or you’ll miss what makes it interesting. If you like lyrics, and stories, and jokes, and following along with songs in that capacity, you’ll have a much higher appreciation for it. But to use adjectives, I think it’s irreverent at times, heartfelt and serious at times — but most of all and most importantly, real. All the time, real.
And what do you wish more people knew about you both on and offstage?
L: Maybe that I’m a really nice person? I’m not sure, I just have a lot of pride in myself as Dave Burd, the human being that I am, beyond Lil Dicky the rapper, and I want the world to like that person as well.
On the “Get Up On This” podcast, there was a lot of emphasis on you being the token funny rapper that they liked. Does the “comedy hip-hop” tag ever bother you?
L: It would only bother me if people limited me to just that. I love comedy, and I love hip-hop, so being mentioned as someone that does both doesn’t make me mad at all. But if someone said, “oh, he’s just a comedy rapper,” that would bother me, because: a) I rap my ass off, and b) I have songs that aren’t the slightest bit funny, that are just as good to me as the funny stuff.
What’s the best part of being a “professional rapper?”
L: Just being your own boss. Not having to answer to anyone. I assume my answer would be the same if I founded my own start-up, but the main thing that I enjoy most about my life is that I am in complete control of what I’m doing at all times. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s great to work hard when you’re passionate about something, and it’s very easy to be passionate about YOUR stuff.
Having come from an advertising background, is there a “plan B” or even an ideal “end game” for you? Or are you now doing what you want to be doing for a long time?
L: I don’t really think about plan B’s. I’m a plan A guy until my hand is forced otherwise. But my end game for me is to maximize my potential creatively, and feel like I achieved the most I could possibly achieve, while still maintaining a sense of personal life, falling in love, raising a family, etc. And I think my ideal achievements aren’t confined to rap either, I want half of my career to be non-music related comedy…creating and starring in my own sitcom, perhaps movies down the line, maybe stand-up one day, etc. All while concurrently becoming the best rapper I can become.
For those planning on coming to your gig at Irving Plaza, what’s to be expected from your performance?
L: I plan on taking the crowd through my five-year plan actually. From becoming cool, to becoming famous, to finding my soulmate, to reflecting on my accomplishments. I plan on taking the crowd through my personal five-year plan. I’ll have a Powerpoint presentation running throughout the show, full of charts, images, and the whole nine. There will also be some new, unheard music and choreographed dance sequences, too. I wanted to take a fresh approach with this show, keep everyone guessing.
What’s ahead for you once you’ve finished up your run of summer festivals?
L: I plan on putting my album out this summer, “Professional Rapper,” and look forward to seeing its reception. And as soon as that comes out, I’m going to begin going very hard at my TV show idea, and flesh that out, and hopefully begin bringing that to reality.
Finally, Dicky, any last words for the kids?
L: Be yourselves! There’s no reason to be anything you aren’t. Just be yourself, own you, and everyone will appreciate it and respect it no matter what.
by Darren Paltrowitz