By: Shane Sullivan
Freaky Friday has garnered 13 million views since it was released over the weekend. If you were familiar with Lil Dicky before, this should come as no surprise since his breakout single in 2013 “Ex-Boyfriend” featured a lot of the same comedic rap/video qualities. David Burd, or Lil Dicky (LD for short), has certainly found his niche. It has been three years since LD released his first album, Professional Rapper, in which he worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg and T-Pain. Now landing a single with Chris Brown, Lil Dicky has established himself as someone capable of working with the upper echelon of the music industry and at the very least as someone who should be sought after by artist in need of clicks.
Despite this, one thing has been apparent about LD’s music since his debut mixtape “So Hard,” and that is the struggle between Lil Dicky and David Burd. The “funny rap” has he puts it in one song, is one side of his persona, and certainly one that he is wildly skillful at when looking at the success of Ex-Boyfriend, Freaky Friday, and others. But there is another side of LD, a side that is just about bars. In his original music we saw it on tracks like (aptly named) Bars, Darwin, and Make Belief. On his debut album we heard it on The Antagonist. In all these tracks we see the side of Lil Dicky that isn’t pushed on his Youtube or social media accounts, in a sense, they’re for him. The struggle I speak of is the balance between being a considered a “comedy” rapper or a “serious” one. LD has shown he has the potential to do both, even if one tends to be more popular than the other thus far. We see that LD is at least self-aware of this from the beginning montage of the Freaky Friday video, where a fan makes sure to let his date know that Lil Dicky isn’t actually a serious rapper.
Will Lil Dicky be remembered in the same vein as say, Weird Al Yankovic? The simple answer for me is no, and that is because he’s shown already he can rap in a way completely separate from the comedy, and his magnum opus for it already exist. Russell Westbrook on a Farm was dropped by LD in 2013, in which he raps over Drake’s Pound Cake. LD’s ability for storytelling and flowing seamlessly on this track is astounding, and calls for the listener to really pay attention to what he’s saying about himself. It’s rare nowadays that a song tells us so much about not only an individuals mindset in that moment, but also the aspirations for their career. Granted, every rapper has a chip on their shoulder and feels that they have so much more to prove than anyone else. The analogy that the song is titled for though, makes LD’s reasoning for it more believable than others. I’ll let you listen to it for yourselves, but in short the analogy is this: what if Russell Westbrook grew up on a farm and was unaware of basketball or the mindset he would play it with until later in life? Deep shit, right? Like what if Usain Bolt never knew he was fast, if Brad Pitt never knew he was handsome, or what if Bruce Willis never found out he was a superhero in Unbreakable? The analogy is perfect because it describes a scenario that many people probably find themselves in, that they’re not doing what it is they’re supposed to be doing. This is, according to LD, the situation he found himself in with rap.
I made the bold claim of saying that this is LD’s magnum opus, and while it can surely be debated whether or not it is a masterpiece, it is still in my opinion perhaps the defining moment of his career this far. It’s intentionally ironic that he chose the song Pound Cake to rap over, a song which is about the millions the artist and his contemporaries have made. The final line of Russell Westbrook on a Farm is “500 million now that’s a pound cake…according to Jay-Z.. and Drake…but greatness ain’t about cake.” This is ultimately what makes this LD’s best act yet. He’s not judging his success by the same standards, he’s simply doing it for himself.
Lil Dicky is a goofy artist, but this is undoubtedly his most sincere work. Not only do we get a deep dive into Dave’s psyche, but his situation and his drive to change it is relatable. So when people begin to talk about whether or not David Burd needs to differentiate himself from his comedic niche, it’s important to remember that he already has.