Being a self-made independent hip-hop artist in 2016 is a daunting task. It can be especially difficult if you are a 28-year-old white Jewish rapper from suburban Pennsylvania. David Burd, aka Lil Dicky, has embraced his differences rather than erase them, and as a result has carved out his own lane. His combination of comedic raps and self-deprecating persona has proven to be the key to setting him apart from other fair-skinned lyricists like Macklemore and G-Eazy. As a result, Lil Dicky has managed to rub shoulders and collaborate with some of hip-hop music’s biggest stars, including Snoop Dogg and, more recently, Trinidad James and Mystikal.
Lil Dicky is currently opening on tour for Kevin Gates. The show stops by Livewire in Scottsdale tonight.
Dicky’s focus on being real has garnered attention from some big names in the hip-hop industry. His thrifty song “Save Dat Money” features a hook from current hip-hop darling Fetty Wap and verses by Atlanta staple Rich Homie Quan. The video is approaching the 40-million-view mark, while his clever, Snoop-assisted “Professional Rapper” has brought in another 20 million. Dicky recently popped up on Trinidad James' newest single “Just a Lil Thick,” which also features southern legend Mystikal. This led to the hilarious Funny or Die video involving the unlikely trio running a grocery store.
Are there any possibilities of there being further collaboration among the three?
“If we did make a group, it would be call ‘Trin-Dick-Tikal’, I can tell you that,” LD says.
The comical lyrics and laid back delivery of LD on “Just a Lil Thick” are part of Lil Dicky’s appeal. If he comes across as more like the next-door neighbor type that raps about The Lion King, that’s because that's who he is. His disarming approach, as well as his skin color, can cause listeners to put him in a lane in the likes of Macklemore. Dicky can definitely relate to one of Mackelmore’s strongest traits: his palpable approach. LD spoke his mind on Mackelmore’s “White Privilege,” which addresses his complicated route of being a successful white urban artist.
“It was very, you know, genuine from him,” LD says. “Like, I really feel like he believes in that type of stuff. Making the world a better place and stuff like that. I guess I was impressed at the bravery for him to do such a thing, but no matter what, he was going to get crucified for doing it. I don’t think he is doing anything that he doesn’t passionately believe in, and I kind of respect him for it.”
Dicky has dealt with his own form of controversy over his career. As it stands, he is banned from the popular hip-hop subreddit, /r/hiphopheads, due to questionable activity early on his career. Burd thinks that the banning is unjust.
“It’s unbelievable to me,” LD says with a more even tone in his voice. “I think there is a subsection of people on Reddit that think that because my videos do so well, I must be gaming the system, which is just false.”
Some claim that Lil Dicky was either purchasing views or was an “Industry Plant” — an artist that is manufactured and propped up by labels under the guise of independent rise. Dicky refutes those claims and is quick to admit his transgressions.
“The only error I’ve ever made in those regards is when I put a video online, I would tell my friends, my five high-school friends, that someone posted something on Reddit and to go upvote it,” Dicky explains. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I did it, like, one time and apparently that’s, like, a thing.”
LD tries not to let the ban rattle his focus too much, as he believes that his content, not fake YouTube views, is the key to success in his videos. At this point, he only hopes to expand on his comedic formula.
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“Rap is a young man’s game, you know,” LD says. “I’m not going to be rapping until I’m 50. Hopefully, by then I can be an actor.”
With hopes of getting involved in TV shows, movies, and maybe even a stand-up act, Lil Dicky clearly has ambitious goals. His support continues to grow, especially in the Jewish community. While Dicky is aware of this, he is quick to clarify his status as a non-practicer.
“I’m Jewish and I was bar mitzvahed, but I’m not an observant Jew,” LD says. “I actually can’t stand when people do this: They come up to me and they go, ‘Yo man, I’m Jewish,’ and I’m just like, ‘Okay.’ I don’t know. … It’s just a weird way to enter a conversation with somebody.”
Correction, 7:45 a.m., 5/2/2016: Due to a transcription error, the quote from Lil Dicky about Reddit was originally incorrect. He did not say "that I posted something on Reddit and to go upvote it." He said "that someone posted something on Reddit and to go upvote it."