You won’t often hear me talk about new releases in rap and hip-hop, mostly on account of how the grand majority of it is absolutely abysmal. Currently, at the top of the American hip-hop chart is the certified gold selling single “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)”. Let that sink in for a moment. A silly dance song, not unlike “The Cupid Shuffle” or “The Macarena”, is topping the charts and taking the US airwaves by storm.
An unlikely champion emerges to save us, and he is none of than the white, jewish, nerdy, and brilliant rap mastermind David Burd, better known as Lil Dicky (and a slew of other names he is prone to making up on the spot). Billed from Los Angeles by way of Philadelphia, LD’s story is an interesting one. A successful accountant unfulfilled by the life that he had worked so hard for, quit his job and spent all of his time and money on a rap career.
And it worked.
He took over the internet with his single “Ex Boyfriend”. Go listen to it. This page will still be up when you get done laughing your ass off. And that’s a positive laugh. His blend of comedy, self awareness and pure skill make him entertaining to both comedy rap crowds and serious rap aficionados. His masterful hold on the YouTube platform was further tightened with the single “Lemme Freak”. The organic success of Lil Dicky culminated into a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his debut full length album after he spent the majority of his personal savings on two mixtapes and 10 music videos. Suffice to say that his crowd funded pipe dream quickly became a reality.
The outcome of all his hard work, his full length debut “Professional Rapper”.
And my god is it incredible.
20 tracks, 4 interludes, 3 previously released singles, all incredible. He opens the record with a long distance 3 way phone call between he and his parents. You all of a sudden understand exactly why he is the least likely candidate to be one of the most popular rappers in the world. His parents, as clueless as they are jewish, set the stage for his opening track “Professional Rapper” featuring the prolific Snoop Dogg, in which he calls a meeting with Snoop to ask to be hired as a professional rapper. He is met with concern, hypothetical scenarios, harsh critique of his privileged upbringing and light hearted approach, but ultimately Snoop takes a chance and offers LD a job. Lil Dicky is now a professional rapper, and Snoop Dogg is directly responsible.
I could do a song by song breakdown of this album, but it would be entirely too long to read. I will instead stick with the high points for brevity’s sake.
“Lemme Freak” made it onto this album, as it had every right to be. Along with it is an extended outro, which Dicky is well known for. This time the outro gets its own track, and is a good enough song to stand alone. Next comes another familiar favorite, “White Crime”.
Next up is “Molly” featuring Brendon Urie (yea THAT Brendon Urie, the one from Panic at the Disco). Dicky laments the end of a serious relationship that was caused by following his dream of moving to LA to be a professional rapper. The chorus is filled with a soulful Urie. This song is absolutely heartbreaking. Dicky is known for not taking many things seriously. His mixtapes are full of comedy and this full length follows suit. My favorite part of his catalog is when he gets serious. Standout examples include “Really Scared”, “Russell Westbrook on a Farm”, and the aforementioned “Molly”. He is far from the first or last rapper to be vulnerable and write a sad song, but the contrast from his other material makes these songs hit extra hard.
Famed stand up comic Hannibal Buress makes an appearance, airing his complaints with Lil Dicky’s name, as well as his frustrations with other rappers NOT being professional. I normally skip interludes, this one is well worth your time.
“$ave Dat Money” features Rich Homie Quan and the unlikely superstar Fetty Wap, who is hilariously unintelligible, and somehow still incredibly entertaining. Quan’s verse is cut short after Dicky realizes that he has strayed wildly off topic, which is a not-so-subtle jab at featured rappers constantly performing verses that have no pertinence to the song. After all, Lil Dicky is now a professional rapper, and he has to set a better example.
Other features include Jace, Two-9, the king of autotune T-pain, and Dicky’s own Brain. T-pain serenades us with a tune about being a gentleman and wooing women with personality instead of looks or money. Brain is called upon to give insight to Dicky’s thought process as he is discussing god and the existence of aliens with a girl he had just hooked up with. I can say with absolute certainty that I have never heard a song about the awkward moments after a club hook up and a polite conversation turned theological argument. It is worth all 10 minutes, I assure you.
The album closes with “Truman”, another piece reflecting on his life and the unlikely success of his rap career, as it pertains to the Jim Carrey movie “The Truman Show”. This movie had a profound impact on his life and he draws parallels to his headspace now that he is suddenly a celebrity. The song closes with several minutes of outro talking, as he is prone to doing. He takes this time to crack jokes, but ultimately thank his fans, especially those that supported his Kickstarter campaign.
I could spend days writing about this album. Just go listen to it. Easily one of the best releases of this year. I look forward to so much more amazing work from him. Support Lil Dicky. Support talented individuals with dreams. And if there is anything we have learned from David Burd, it is to follow your dreams.