Lil Dicky's exploration of rap culture
With a nasal rasp that could be chanting Torah, the Philadelphia based rapper Lil Dicky has made a career off intelligent, comedic wordplay and professional quality production.
Lil Dicky, whose real name is David Burd, was born in Philadelphia. He attended the University of Richmond in Virginia and then moved to California to work at an advertising agency. Yet, he always yearned to express himself in a creative environment different from the typical 9-5 office job, and he would do so with his first music video that he released, “Ex Boyfriend.” One day, one million hits.
Dicky’s latest hit, “$ave Dat Money,” features both Rich Homie Quan and Fetty Wap, who has recently been in the news, having unfortunately been involved in a motorcycle collision that left both parties injured. Dicky’s latest music video features him going around different wealthy neighborhoods, giving a quick spiel about the video (which includes the fact that they want to spend minimal money on the production), and then asking the residents of the neighborhood to use their property for the video itself. He performs on the balcony of a sun-soaked estate, baseball jersey sprawled open, acting like he owns the place. It is in this act that a microcosmic exploration of rap culture occurs. On a surface level, Dicky is very much playing the role of big-spending rapper. However, through his comedic lyricism, Dicky is able to express his thoughtful social commentary. For instance, on his song “White Dude” Dicky raps, “I ain’t black or Dominican, Hispanic or Indian/So imprisonment is not a predicament.” His comedic timing allows him to make points about racial injustice without coming across as overly controversial.
While Lil Dicky is typically associated as more of a comedian than a rapper, it is clear his goals for his rap career extend far beyond viral videos. The single “Russell Westbrook on a Farm” exemplifies this. It has an intriguing story with an emotional core centered on ambition, greatness and opportunity. Rapping over Drake’s Pound Cake beat, he tells the strange tale of a parallel universe in which Russell Westbrook was raised on a farm. I didn’t think it possible for the shaggy haired rapper to find some form of connection between the NBA player and himself, but he manages to do so in an intelligent and sincere manner. Dicky proceeds to question the various paths that led him to this eccentric career, and in doing so, ties himself to Westbrook “Lol’ing at the past, like where the fuck would I be at up on the other path?”
When listening to Lil Dicky speak, it is clear that he views himself as a long-term force as opposed to a hit sensation. He calls himself a competitor of A$AP Rocky and J. Cole: “I see myself as more than an internet sensation…hopefully what I do is gonna transcend that." Whether he can uphold this worthy goal is a matter of time.