Column: The indisputable genius of Lil Dicky

Griffin Neal
Oxford Stories

How does a 5’11, 158 lb. business major from the University of Richmond gain respect from the likes of everyone from Snoop Dogg to your nerdy neighbor across the street? By impeccably blending legitimate hip-hop bars, improv comedy, and sports into one and calling it Lil Dicky.

Hailing from a Jewish family in an affluent suburb of North Philadelphia, Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky, aka the independent variable, aka the original pancake), started rapping while working as an account manager at a firm in San Fransisco.

And in a few short years, he’s transformed himself from college-dorm banger to music festival-headliner; yet he’s still climbing.

Burd began as someone who suburban white kids could turn on as they cruised around, possessing a sound that could only come from another alumni of white suburbia.

His lyrical anthology contains raps about everything from a hypothetical situation where Russell Westbrook grows up on a farm instead of playing basketball, to commentary on the current state of hip-hop, to a song explicitly about saving money. Simply put, he raps about things people talk about – typical everyday occurrences.

His first mixtape, So Hard, integrates raw, basement freestyles with songs like his first hit, “Ex-Boyfriend.” The song went viral on YouTube, as Dicky narrates the story of his internal debate on whether or not he should break up with his girlfriend because her ex-boyfriend is, “better put together” than Dicky, to put it conservatively.

The song and corresponding video were hysterical, and was Dicky’s first real intrusion into the hip-hop scene.

His opus, Professional Rapper, dropped in the Summer of 2015. In typical Dicky-fashion, the album artwork is a screen-shot of his resumé – expressing that this album is nothing more than part of his application to become a professional rapper.

Like most albums, some songs fade into the background, while a select few transcend the album altogether and achieve infamy. For Dicky, Save Dat Money and Pillow Talking did just so.

$ave Dat Money is nothing more than an allegory of the (then) current state of hip-hop. Everything from the beat to the blue-chip features (Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan) are divergent from Dicky’s style as a rapper. Yet, it’s his most played song on Spotify, only emboldening the song’s satirical purpose.

The song is about saving money in all facets of life. Dicky raps about “Free trial memberships,” “shopping off brands at Walgreens,” and critiques rappers for rapping about blowing money, asking “the f*** you rappers bragging bout? you overpayin’ for it!”

In the spirit of the song, Dicky also managed to shoot the video completely for free. He talked his way into a strangers’ mansion, into renting a Lamborghini, into T-Pain’s rap video shoot, and into a packed nightclub: all free of charge.

On the other hand, Pillow Talking, a 10-minute song narrating a post-sex conversation with a girl he just met, is Dicky’s masterpiece.

While it hasn’t experienced the renown that Save Dat Money has, it has developed an almost cult-like following. In the song, Dicky and his bedmate discuss a myriad of topics in their awkward post-fornication chat.

As he’s getting to know her, she lets on that her brother is in the Army, which leads Dicky to ask: “Do you f*** with the war?” The question, while straightforward, has transcended the song itself. Countless T-shirts and Instagram bio’s are now clad with the phrase, as it starts an argument with Dicky and his new friend.

Their debate extends to the existence of aliens, creationism, and veganism, generating one of the most lyrically and artistically savvy songs in the lexicon of contemporary hip-hop. The most fascinating and comical part of the song is Dicky’s introduction of “Brain.”

Brain, a physical representation of Dicky’s brain, enters the conversation to mediate between Dicky and his partner. He discusses the logic behind God and the existence of dinosaurs, asking the partner “So God made the Earth, and God was like ‘Hol up’, this s**t is boring, it need more s**t. Imma put dinosaurs on that b***h.”

Dicky concurs, stating God said “Dinosaurs are just blah, imma cook up some blondes… God was way off, h*e them things 35-feet I’m like 5 foot 11.”

If it sounds as ridiculous reading as it is typing, I encourage you to listen to the song. Their little exchange deserves an award for music, and comedy.

But this exchange highlights more than a few humorous lyrics, Dicky’s creation and subsequent introduction of “The Brain” into his music is the true manifestation of his genius.

Instead of booking a feature on his track, he actually created one out of thin air. He modified the sound on Brain’s verses to sound like another person that Dicky could have conversations with while he raps.

In addition to having a Twitter account, Brain just released a 7-song EP, where Dicky and Brain rap about everything from not doing drugs to field hockey. And it’s nothing more than a figment of Dicky’s imagination.

Lil Dicky got bored with his own music, so he created an alter-ego, wrote songs for it, and is now accruing fame and attention for it. The Brain is emblematic of two things: Lil Dicky is nothing more than your average guy with too much time on his hands, and that he’s especially talented.

His style might not attract everyone, specifically proponents of old-school hip-hop and gangsta rap. But one thing is indisputable; Dave Burd has skills. And he’s willing to do quite literally anything to prove it to you.

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