You won’t find Lil Dicky in Billboard or most (if any) major music magazines. His music videos—which he largely handles himself—aren’t currently on MTV, BET or any other well-known music channel on network or cable TV. But Dicky gathered a loyal group of fans to support him, and he used a Kickstarter campaign to raise the type of money that eclipses some more notable rapper’s album advances. Armed with $113,000 around 35,000 fans on Facebook and 30,000 followers on Twitter, Dicky flat states, “I now am of the mindset that I’m the greatest rapper alive—as every great rapper should feel.”
That may sound like a pretty overconfident statement coming from a relative unknown, but think about it. Aspiring emcees are always being told to build a loyal fan base, perform live, make quality music and videos, make/sell merchandise and stay persistent. Dicky used his devoted fans (he calls them “Dickheads”) and did all the above. In return, he was given what even some bigger artists lack—enough cash to pursue his goal full-time and reinvest back into his craft.
Whether accomplishing those goals makes him the greatest rapper alive is probably a completely different argument. But whether you’re a loyal fan of Lil Dicky or just getting ready to hit “Enter” and post an angry comment about how Dicky has no business on HipHopDX, you may want to take a more in-depth look at the mechanics behind how one man essentially rode the ABC’s of being an aspiring rapper to a six-figure budget.
How Lil Dicky Raised $113,000 From Fans Via Kickstarter
HipHopDX: You had a Kickstarter goal of $70,000. Did you ever think you would reach that goal, let alone $113,000?
Lil Dicky: To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly felt like I was building a special connection with my fans, “The Dickheads.” But this was the first time I was asking them to dip into their pockets, and you truly never know how that’s going to turn out. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it pass my goal. Deep down, I was hoping for $100,000 just because that number is so round and plump. But I thought there was just as good of a chance as hitting $100,000 as there would be as hitting $50,000. So I put it at $70,000 and crossed my fingers. I ended up extremely pleased and humbled.
DX: At this point in your career, do you feel that a Kickstarter campaign was a necessity?
Lil Dicky: The money is a complete necessity. To do this full time, I had to quit my job about six months ago—and I’ve got very little income coming in. On top of that, I spent my life’s savings on the first wave of stuff, so I was at the point where I couldn’t continue without more money. But Kickstarter has been a part of my plan since day one. I’m going to invest every penny into the next wave, which will include an album: studio time, mixing, mastering, beats, features, music videos, and a budget to make my live show a bit more unique and interesting than a typical Rap concert.
DX: What inspired the clothing line, and do you plan on expanding the merchandise?
Lil Dicky: Nothing really inspired it; every artist needs to have gear that his fans can rep. So I wanted to make mine reflective of myself, my movement, and my fashion tastes. All black, well designed, funny, unique clothing. The hoodie is super comfy too. I’m sure I’ll expand at some point, because I want a Dickhead basketball jersey. But for now there’s more than enough.
Why Lil Dicky Says Lord Jamar Is Out Of Touch With Reality
DX: What do you say to the listeners that are offended by some of the lyrics on “White Dude?”
Lil Dicky: Well, I believe satire doesn’t need to be defended. I think there’s value in making people question the lyrics, wonder why they are offended, think about the lyrics in the context of Rap. But, I’d say you are looking at it the wrong way if you are taking this song literally. There’s a larger set of statements being made that you are missing if you are taking it personally. The song is about the realities of our society. I don’t shape those realities. I just comment on them. So be mad at whatever is shaping those realities. I’m just the funny messenger.
DX: Lord Jamar recently said, “White rappers are guests in Hip Hop.” How does that make you feel as a Caucasian emcee?
Lil Dicky: It makes me feel like Lord Jamar is out of touch with reality. Eminem is by far the best technical rapper in the history of the genre. Not even close. So, if the king is a guest, everyone’s a guest. I don’t look at skin color. If you can rap, you can rap. Bars are bars. I’d put my bars against any rapper out and feel completely confident. So, I don’t buy it.
Black people founded the genre, and that won’t change. But exclusivity feels pretty hypocritical to the fundamental values within the genre itself. James Naismith invented basketball, but thank God black people play it.
DX: Your fans are labeled as “Dickheads,” but did you ever think of an alternate name for the female fans? If you had to pick a name, what would it be?
Lil Dicky: I really don’t think there should be a different name for females; I’m an equal opportunity kind of dude. A fan of Lil Dicky is a Dickhead, plain and simple. I don’t care if you’re old, young, boy, girl, even aliens—if they ever make their presence felt during my career. A Dickhead is a Dickhead. If I had a gun to my head and you made me pick something, maybe a Chickhead. But there’s no gun to my head.
Lil Dicky Calls His Philly Show The Culminating Event In His Life
DX: You are on your first national tour right now, which opened up in your hometown of Philadelphia. How was it stepping on stage for the very first time?
Lil Dicky: It felt like a culminating event in my life. Deep down, I’ve always known I was born to entertain, and I knew I’d be hitting the stage at some point. But I genuinely hadn’t hit it until that moment. I don’t even do karaoke. It was a long time coming, and I felt ready for it. It was great. Immediately after I began rapping, I could tell how much more tiring this was going to be than simply rehearsing, or rapping in my room. So I was just thinking, “Survive.” It felt like I was in Colorado with lower oxygen levels or something, but I was in Philadelphia. I’ve learned to pace myself since that first show. It was an extremely rewarding moment, I was shocked at how naturally comfortable I felt up there considering I’d never done it, and there were 1,000 people and high expectations staring me right in the face.
DX: How does touring and performing compare to the creative process of writing a song or shooting a music video?
Lil Dicky: It’s a completely different animal. I rap differently. I go harder. It’s cool. It’s even different rapping in front of fans that know your shit, compared to people who have never even heard of me. Down in Austin for SXSW, I was playing some showcases where the audience was seeing me for the first time. And winning those people over was awesome.
But there’s also something amazing in listening and hearing the crowd know every word to every song, even my non-“hits.” And that’s been the case thus far. My favorite part of the process is probably writing the songs. It can be my least favorite, but when I am on a hot streak, and I am doing well, it’s amazing. I feel like I’m writing history sometimes. And that’s the coolest feeling. I’ve got a ton of pride in creating music videos, and I am insistent on being the creative ring leader no matter what. The videos are just as much my babies as the music is.
Lil Explains His Greatest Rapper Alive Mindset & Admiring Drake
DX: You stated that “Russell Westbrook On A Farm” is your favorite song you recorded. Why is that?
Lil Dicky: It’s a masterpiece. For starters, I firmly believe in the sport of rapping, and I take a lot of pride in the ability to make a six-and-a-half-minute verse that’s fully captivating, well written, and introspective. On top of that, a lot of times it’s easy for people to watch something like “Ex-Boyfriend” and label me as a comedy rapper, like Lonely Island. But this is a song I can play for anyone, and they’ve got no choice but to respect me as a rapper. I don’t make a single joke in it.
Lastly, I love the analogy. It’s all about what if Russell Westbrook had no clue he could ball, and then one day, as a 22-year-old or whatever, he just found a court and realized what a beast he was? It’s exactly what’s happening with myself and Rap. Like I said earlier, I had no interest in being a rapper, and didn’t really think I was especially talented as a pure rapper when I began. I now am of the mindset that I’m the greatest rapper alive. As every great rapper should feel.
DX: You had a handful of videos that went viral. What was your favorite video to record?
Lil Dicky: “Ex-Boyfriend,” just because I knew what it would be as soon as I met the chick and the dude. They both were so good looking, and so down for whatever, which was so necessary to make that video what it was. So really, as I was making it, I knew I was making a masterpiece—and that’s just a wonderful feeling. Casting was crucial, and I had very few options to play either role. So when I got lucky as shit and got both of them, I was on cloud nine the entire shoot. Plus, it’s always fun when Melissa is running around in a thong all day.
DX: Your humor is obvious on the majority of your songs. Have you thought about acting or stand up comedy?
Lil Dicky: Yeah, 100%. I started rapping simply to get attention comedically, so I could write movies, write TV shows and act. I had very little interest in being a rapper. I fell in love with rapping though, so I’m not leaving that game until I’ve proved my point. However, I plan on having two concurrent careers going on at the same time, as a rapper, and as a comedian/actor/writer. I value the non-musical career just as much as the Rap career, and can’t wait to begin acting on that.
DX: You can choose one producer and one artist to work with, who would you choose and why?
Lil Dicky: Geez, this is tough. I think it’d have to be a Kanye West beat. He’s just ahead of his time, and everything he does is so fresh. I respect his mindset too; I share the same beliefs about myself though we go about expressing those beliefs in entirely different ways.
And then the rapper—I can’t even front—it’d be Drake. He’s my favorite rapper. People are always shocked by that, but his diversity is crazy. He can go over any type of track, whether it’s Trap, Southern, East Coast, hard, soft, ballad, pop or club. It just doesn’t matter with Drake. Anyone that hates on him is ignoring the fact that he’s completely shaped the current landscape of Hip Hop. People wouldn’t be rapping the same had Drake never been born. And Drake wouldn’t be rapping the way he does had Lil Wayne not been born. It’s all very much like basketball…different players, different eras.
DX: With that said, can we expect any collaborations in the future from Lil Dicky?
Lil Dicky: There are a couple of conversations going around…a couple of ideas, but nothing concrete yet. I’ve got some thoughts and ideas for other rappers that would be really incredible, but they’d have to be willing to play ball with my concepts. I’m not necessarily the type of rapper who makes songs about nothing and just has an open verse for anyone to say anything on it. Everything is calculated with me.