Music: Lil Dicky and the Enigma of the Funny Rapper

After talking about the kick-ass blues and spitfire talent a few weeks ago of NYC trio People Vs Larsen, I’m feeling the need today to shine my tiny little insignificant spotlight on another criminally under appreciated musician, Philadelphia rapper Lil Dicky.

Lil Dicky is a white 20-something Jewish rapper with a corny head of hair who likes to rap about masturbating, the size of his mediocre penis and being a white Jewish rapper with corny hair (“chest hair poking out of my shirt looking like taco meat”). He is also the best new lyricist in the rap game and packs a sneaky amount of talent behind his comic rhymes.

He’s established a cult following via his YouTube videos–and it’s easy to watch his music videos for “Too High” and “Ex Boyfriend” and dismiss him as a Jon Lajoie-style flash in the pan rapper-comedian, but that really doesn’t do the man justice. His 2012 mixtape, So  Hard, doesn’t have a single miss among its seventeen tracks, and I highly doubt that you’ve ever heard a song where a man has a back-and-forth dialogue with his penis (“Attached at the Hip“). It’s like Stan, with Lil Dicky’s penis as Dido. It’s funny, it’s clever, but it’s also unquestionably a good song and written by a man with unquestionable talent for rhyming.

Last year, Lil Dicky started taking things a little more seriously to show his chops as a legit rapper, and one of the resulting tracks — “Russell Westbrook on a Farm“–is hot fire, a song about how he discovered his own talent for rapping and a song in which he uses a completely absurd metaphor with such skill and precision that I’m having a lot of trouble trying to think of a single other rapper that could have pulled it off. Just listen to it, come back and tell me this kid wasn’t born for this.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be avoid being pigeonholed as a clown, and to deftly manage to blend comedic rapping and this porn-obsessed Lil Dicky persona with legitimate respect as a real artist. Lil Dicky should never abandon what put him on the scene–he is really, really funny–but it would be a shame to box him into the ‘comic rapper’ corner and leave him there.

His songs are usually about normal guy things that make him feel like a real person, whether he’s watching way too much porn or going out to clubs and having a terrible time: “Bout to quit but I’m bitter I paid that cover, have to stay in this stupid club a bit longer, and I’m sweating like a Jew in a multicultural sauna, they’ve been playing fucking dubstep for ten consecutive songs. Then I bumped into a guy, he was roughly 6 foot 5, pretty sure it was his fault but I apologized.”

The thing is, despite the hilarity, he’s not Weird Al. Can a rapper be both hilarious and well-respected? In a genre of music as ridiculously self-serious as hip hop–where Eminem is viewed as a ‘funny’ rapper–is there room for Lil Dicky to get the respect he deserves?

I think he will, as his cult following appears to be starting to pay off. Last week Lil Dicky released his first ‘official’ single, “Lemme Freak“. The song is really Dicky–it’s a great song, catchy in and of itself, and unquestionably hilarious (“Look,” an exasperated Dicky says midsong when denied sex from his girlfriend. “I just turned off The Departed for a movie about a bee. I’ve been cutting back on farting, Tweeting, arguing and weed. Yesterday I wore a cardigan.”). It’s his wordplay that again makes this song–the song itself is funnier than the music video, and that’s because, even while sophomoric, it’s so well written and performed that his true talent shines through.

I just copped some tickets to see him live when he’s in New York, and I’m curious as to what the experience will be–will it be like a standup act? A real concert? Will it be filled with fifteen year olds trying to smoke their first joint and failing to properly roll one in the crowd, or will there be real hip hop heads there with an appreciation for Dicky and what he’s trying to do?

Who knows, man. Regardless where he ends up, I’ll be there, beer in hand, seeing a great rapper ascend and rooting for the kid to make it. Guess you could call me a Dickhead.

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One thought on “Music: Lil Dicky and the Enigma of the Funny Rapper

  1. Pingback: A little self indulgence (which is what I should have called this blog) | Sometime the Wolf

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