Ever since 1983 when the Sugarhill Gang recounted the hilarious yet daunting task of weaseling out of indigestion at the hands of an inedible home cooked meal, comedy has been an integral component of Hip Hop. But while top notch emcees like Redman, Eminem and Tyler The Creator have branded themselves as emcees that are funny, Donald Glover currently stands as the lone successful survivor of the comedian-turned-respected-MC Oregon trail. With his debut album coming later this year and a rapidly expanding fan base thanks to his mixtape, So Hard, Philly-born rapper Lil Dicky looks to set himself apart from other comedians that have used Hip Hop as a parody of itself.
“I get a lot of people that say to me like, ‘Man I wish you would stop doing this and make real songs’ but the thing is I’ve made real songs now too so now people can just respect the decision if I choose to go the funny route,” says Lil Dicky, whose real name is Dave Burd. “Lonely Island never really proved that they could make a real song so they’re never really gonna be viewed as true Hip Hop in my opinion, but I think because I make real songs I can be viewed both ways,” he added.
Dave, who has admitted in the past to getting into Rap solely as a vehicle to kickstart his comedy career, also talked about the evolution of his goals.
“I put the last two years into rap as a means to get my opportunity as a comedian and bypass a lot of steps that way, but I really ended up falling in love with rap [in the process] and I don’t see myself going away from this anytime soon,” Dave acknowledged. “The mixtape to me felt like a comedian who is really good at rapping, whereas I think my debut album, Professional Rapper feels like a good rapper who’s funny, which is subtle but there is a difference. I try to be mindful of treating this like music, whereas before I didn’t.
But I also can’t forget why I got into rap in the first place. The whole reason I started rapping was to have my opportunity as an on-screen comic. Like a Jonah Hill type of person. So I’m actually working on my own TV show. Once [Professional Rapper] is done I’m hitting a switch. It’s gonna be difficult because it’s kinda the same thing as rap. My first six months of rap weren’t things that were sharable. You just work and get better. I’m sure I’m gonna have to work on stuff the same way I did rhyming, but I just can’t ignore that side of me and I’ve been doing that for two years.”
The “White Crime” MC funded his debut LP using Kickstarter, garnering more than $113,000, which far exceeded his goal of $70,000. Dave says the album is only missing a strong finishing touch.
“I need one more song for my album to feel really satisfied, so I’m just searching for that little piece of satisfaction. I’m not exaggerating when I say right now I don’t do anything but work. For roughly the past year it’s been that way. My New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to have more fun, so I’m pretty excited to go out and meet people this year and really enjoy life,” said Dave, who also noted how divisive the final track has become when it comes to his fan base. “I put it out there that I have one song left for the album and I asked is your preference for it to be funny or serious? The responses I got were so split. People really seemed to like both equally and the issue is it’s hard to please everyone.”
Lil Dicky became an overnight sensation after So Hard but this time around he says he feels he’s one of the best rappers alive and hopes people will see the evolution.
“I did So Hard to be noticed for being funny. and then towards the end of it I started to really evolve as a rapper and noticed how good I had become, right before So Hard came out and I added a few songs to reflect that, but when I made So Hard I did not see myself as one of the best rappers alive and now I do. And I think I’ve only gotten better. A lot of rappers before they have their first album they have like five mixtapes out. I only have one project so that whole thing was just kind of like the first step. Now I feel like I’m walking. And I don’t even know that I’m running yet but it feels good to walk.”
Lil Dicky Describes His Writing Process
HipHopDX: Do you lock yourself in the studio?
Lil Dicky: You’re catching me at a time when I just don’t do anything socially. The last two months have just blurred together in the sense that they’re just like, I don’t advance as a human being at all. I’m just working. It’s more so like my room but yea. I write all my stuff in my room and then I’ll record it in a studio. Basically.
DX: So when do you think it’ll be finished?
Lil Dicky: When my job is done. There’s still mixing and stuff that has to go into it but from a creative standpoint everything else I’ve figured out.
DX: Do you worry at all about what other people may think of you?
Lil Dicky:I’ve never really been shy or reserved at least from a comedic standpoint in terms of I’m always told if I’m being myself don’t really worry about what people think. But actually I kinda do worry about what people think to be honest, but there never was a moment where I was shy and decided not to be shy anymore. I kinda always was outgoing and I always knew that that day would come. I knew that when I graduated college I was gonna have to attempt something but I didn’t necessarily envision it being rap. I didn’t know what it was gonna be. So I graduated and I sat down and I thought about what would make the most sense to make this move and I went with rap for a variety of reasons. But I guess I’ve always kind of… Ever since I was thirteen I’ve always thought. I don’t know why I said thirteen, but ever since I was a kid I knew people seemed to find me funny everywhere I go. The constant feedback is “Oh, you’re a funny person.” So I just wanted to try to take steps to have that be my livelihood. I always knew that was gonna be an attempt I made and I knew I was gonna have to wait ’til after college to do it because I had to go to college.
Lil Dicky Names Drake And Jay Z As Inspiration
DX: What have you been listening to in terms of Hip Hop?
Lil Dicky: I’ve been listening to the new J. Cole album. I’ve been listening to some different type stuff like Key! Give ‘Em Hell and that’ll give you a good idea of where my headspace is as a rapper right now. I’ve been listening to the new Mike Will mixtape. In 2014 my favorite album was probably SchoolBoy’s and obviously 2015 seems to be the big guns coming out.
My favorite rapper ever is Jay Z but my favorite modern day rapper who I assume will ultimately become my favorite rapper when it’s all said and done is Drake. I just respect Jay Z’s catalogue far more than Drake’s right now but when Drake’s at his best he’s my favorite. So if he just continues to make stuff I imagine his catalogue will get better and better.
As far as influence from rappers I would say pretty much all of it, well not all of it but I would say my favorite rappers are pretty much who I’m inspired by.
DX: How have those artists influenced you?
Lil Dicky: I put this rapper hat on only two years ago and the basis of that so I’m really just going off of me being a fan of… I assume that who I’ve become as a rapper has been greatly influenced by a lot of modern day rappers so I assume Drake has a huge impact and Cole has a solid impact, ASAP Rocky – which is weird because some of these guys are younger than me but yeah those are the guys that I listen to so it’s hard not to be influenced by them.
Transitioning To Stand-up… Or not
DX: Have you ever done stand-up?
Lil Dicky: I’ve never done stand-up. I don’t think if I went up there and rapped it would make sense but during my shows I do a lot of, I suppose it’s standup, I speak in between songs but the vibe at rap shows is like it’s just a bunch of drunk people that wanna hear the guys rap the song they know so it’s like I get laughs but I can tell sometimes people are thinking “Stop talking and just rap.” So I’ve never gone into a comedy setting and just spoke the way David Burd would speak. It’s definitely an ambition of mine but I think standup is super difficult and I wouldn’t wanna do it until I felt that I could do it well and I just really don’t have much time cause I’m devoting it to rap and other forms of comedy.
DX: How do you walk the line between funny and serious?
Lil Dicky: I think early Eminem did it well. So did Ludacris. It’s like a different comedic approach I guess. Super hyper masculine I’d almost argue it’s an insensitive genre ‘cause no one really shows sensitivity… It’s a lot of bravado
DX: What do you have in the works right now?
Lil Dicky: Yeah, I’ve had offers to be a part of things but I don’t have a timeline. I would say I’m in the infant stages of development. It’s not just like me saying I’m making a TV show. There’s more to it than that. I’m partnering with companies and having meetings and it’s in the infant stages. I just honestly can’t focus on it right now because I don’t even have a life because of how much music takes up, and I can’t put a timeline on it because I don’t have any idea what this album will do but like I said it’s my ambition to put the album out and flip a switch and not be a rapper in terms of my day to day activity for like 6 months. I will be but I want it to be like the back side of my brain.