Who Is Lil Dicky? Meet the Rapper-Turned-Dave Star
Will the real Lil Dicky please stand up?
On Wednesday, March 4, the viral rapper with a flair for the comedic born Dave Burd will blur the lines of fact and fiction in an attempt to introduce himself to the world in the new FXX comedy he co-created with Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld vet Jeff Schaffer and executive-produced alongside heavyweights like Kevin Hart, Greg Mottola (Superbad) and Scooter Braun. (Yes, that Scooter Braun.)
A show entitled, appropriately enough, Dave.
In the new series, Burd plays a version of himself in a world loosely based on his own career thus far. “The arc of the first season is, how do you go from having people view your video to being viewed as an actual rap artist?” Schaffer told the New York Times this month. “Dave has a bucket of shameful, embarrassing, amazing stories…Even if he was an accountant, his interactions with people would be worthy of a TV show. But he was like a rap Don Quixote tilting at the ‘legitimacy’ windmill.”
As Burd told Entertainment Weekly, he understands that audiences will think everything they’re seeing on the show is drawn from real life. What’s more, he likes the idea of people not knowing what’s real and what isn’t. So, we thought, what better way to prepare you for Dave then by introducing you to the man behind the show. You know, to make your detective work a little bit easier.
Early Days: Born into an upper-middle-class Jewish family in Cheltenham Township, Penn. on March 15, 1988, David Andrew Burd’s interest in music began young, bouncing between hip-hop and alt-rock. And his first foray into rapping was at a very early age. “Always done it very casually,” he told GQ in 2015. “I remember in fifth grade I did a history report on Alexander Pushkin via rap.”
Before the Music: After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Richmond in 2010, Burd relocated from Virginia to San Francisco, Calif., where he worked in account management at ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. After he delivered a monthly progress report not as a typical three-page memo but a rap video, the company liked the creative gamble so much they let him work in their creative department, writing copy for ads, including the 2012 NBA playoffs campaign.
Going Viral: Holding onto his day job, he began work on a mixtape, So Hard, in 2011. It took him over two years to finish, but in 2013, he began releasing a new song a week for five months straight. When the music video for lead single “Ex-Boyfriend” hit YouTube on April 23, 2013, it went viral, netting one million views within 24 hours of being posted. After releasing 32 songs and 15 music videos, he launched a Kickstarter on November 20, with the goal of raising $70,000 to help fund fund the second phase of his career, telling fans he’d “officially run out of money.” A month later, he’d raised $113,000.
Breaking Big: While critics remained unsure what to make of Burd’s music—Was he a comedian first? Or a musician who was funny?—the release of his debut album Professional Rapper on July 31, 2015 gave his career the injection of legitimacy he’d been looking for. Featuring appearances from Snoop Dogg, Fetty Wap, Rich Homie Quan, T-Pain and Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, it debuted at No. 1 across the Comedy Albums, Rap Albums and Independent Albums charts, while landing at No. 7 out the gate on the Billboard 200. With 22,000 copies sold in its first week, the album was eventually certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Charting Success: In March 2018, Burd released what would become his most successful track thus far: “Freaky Friday,” a collaboration with Chris Brown that finds the pair switching bodies after a wish made on a fortune cookie. The song peaked at No. 8 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 and landed at No. 55 on the year-end chart. It went on to earn 4x Platinum certification by the RIAA, with four million units sold. The song wasn’t without its detractors, though. The mere presence of Brown, with his checkered past in mind, was enough to turn some people off. And the song’s central conceit that being in Brown’s body meant that Burd could finally say the n-word turned off even more.
Courting Controversy: It wasn’t the first time Burd had faced scrutiny from critics. Earlier track “White Dude” found him seemingly reveling in white privilege while blatantly making fun of African-Americans with lyrics like “Happy that my name ain’t stupid/Dave coulda been Daquan with a few kids.”
Though he once vigorously defended the track as satire, including an infamous 2014 interview with Vice’s Noisey that’s a wild read, he’s since distanced himself from the song. It’s no longer on his YouTube channel and he told The New York Times this month alone that he regrets some past decisions. “I’m maturing every day, and certain things I thought and said are a far cry from what I think now,” he told the publication.
Famous Friends: Three days before Earth Day 2019, Burd released a charity single called “Earth” that featured vocals from 30 high-profile artists including Hart, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Halsey, Shawn Mendes, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, and Bad Bunny. The music video, made in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and featuring an appearance from Leonardo DiCaprio himself, hoped to encourage better environmental practices worldwide in the effort to combat climate change. Burd, his manager Braun and producer Benny Blanco leaned on all their contacts to get all the artists involved. The only one they couldn’t get? Kanye West. (Hart took his place.)
Vision for the Future: With a show to launch and a second album on the way, Burd is busier than ever, making good on what he’s been saying as far back as 2014. “I started rapping simply to get attention comedically, so I could write movies, write TV shows and act,” he told HipHopDX that year. “However, I plan on having two concurrent careers going on at the same time, as a rapper, and as a comedian/actor/writer. I value the non-musical career just as much as the Rap career, and can’t wait to begin acting on that.” Looks like he pulled it off.
Dave premieres Wednesday, March 4 at 10 p.m. on FXX.
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