Student Media: What’s been the experience with working within the rap industry, before then and now that you have your success with “Professional Rapper”? How’s that changed the way that you’ve produced music?
Lil’ Dicky: I would say that the biggest difference is, before, it was a complete one-man show in the sense that I didn’t have management or anything. I was just sitting in my room, downloading beats illegally, recording it all in my room. It was simply just one man in his room with no other factors. Of course, now it’s a completely collaborative effort- like, I was in the studio with Diplo, which is much easier.
sm: Is there anything about the creative processes that you went through before your recent successes that you’ve preferred about creating music before “Professional Rapper”?
ld: You know, I worked in a slower pace in the sense that before when nothing was online, you could literally take your time and just make and do exactly what you want. Now, it’s like, there’s obviously a sense of urgency to get something out at all times at some extent. And then, you have to promote what’s been out. So before, it’s like you’re creating with no real time limit and no need to promote it or anything because none of it is a public face ad. So now, it’s like everything that’s public face, I have to promote while at the same time create something new because there’s always going to be that hunger for more.
sm: Do you think that having to promote and kind of pay attention to other facilities like social media kind of impacts your creative process in a different way?
ld: Before I never toured, I was just making the stuff. Now I go on tour, and when I’m on tour, personally, I can’t create anything useful. I just don’t know, I give myself every excuse, I don’t know why. I just can’t do anything useful. So it’s just like a time difference, I feel like I have significantly less time to make the stuff.
sm: From where you started until where are you now with “Professional Rapper,” your music has definitely sort of taken a turn from comedy rap to rap that is funny. Tell me a little bit about that process- if that was an intentional change or if that was just how your music moved.
ld: I think it was just a natural evolution. I started rapping to be a comedian, I did not think I was going to be a rapper. And then I learned that I could be a rapper, and once you learn that, you start thinking about it entirely differently. You start taking yourself seriously as a rapper. Before, I really don’t think I did. And so when you have that mindset, now it’s like, ‘oh, now I’m really competitive about it.’ Now I have other things to prove. Now I kind of want eventually to have content that’s not even music related that kind of speaks for itself. Then the music can speak for itself without being comedic sometimes.
sm: What was the moment or maybe the inspirational cue- the thing that caused you to realize that you should start taking your talent more seriously?
ld: I think when I made the song “Russell Westbrook on a Farm.” I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but it’s a serious song. It’s all about this metaphor with Russell Westbrook, the NBA player, and the concept of the song is: imagine if he grew up on a farm and had no idea he was good at basketball, and then one day he discovered the basketball court and learned that he was Russell Westbrook. The analogy is that’s me with rap. And that song has been really good, and it wasn’t funny at all. It was really serious. It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever wrote, maybe. So I think that moment made me feel internally like whereas before I was thinking you’re kind of Larry David. After that I was thinking maybe you’re also Eminem.
sm: You kind of have this roster of really big collaborators on this new album, why do you think people responded so well to Lil Dicky?
ld: Yeah, which was a pleasant surprise in my opinion. I think the main thing is that it’s real. Like one of the key elements of hip-hop is realness. I think it’s pretty clear in my music I’m not trying to be anything other than myself. So I think people identify with that immediately. Also, in terms of the uniqueness of my music that we all kind of probably appreciate if you like me, rappers see it even more because they’re the ones making music every day, and they know what goes into it, so I think these guys are able to see how unique and impressive these concepts and details are.
sm: Where did the name Lil Dicky come from?
ld: I really just thought of it- like, I got my computer, my Macbook Pro, and Garageband was in it. You know, I had always rapped for fun, but I never had the opportunity to have a program on my computer that was so high quality where I could drag a beat in and sing in autotune all of a sudden. So that first day I was just messing around and made this rinky-dink song, ironically over a T-Pain beat I was singing over, and I called myself Lil Dicky like I don’t really remember why, I mean, it was definitely a small penis joke, and I thought it was funny. When I decided to become an actual rapper taken seriously like three years later, I had a whole list of names in a word document, and none of them felt better than Lil Dicky. And I like rewarding moments if they happen, you know what I mean?
sm: If you could tell our Georgia College students anything about following your dreams, what would you say?
ld: To me, I could always live with failure, but I couldn’t live with what-if. Sure, it’s scary to put yourself out there, but it’s even scarier to not and then always have to, for the rest of your life, wonder what would’ve happened. So if I fail, I would’ve known ‘oh ok, you’re not that.’ So to me, you just have to try. Don’t settle for plan B until plan A fails.