For the record, I am anti-conspiracy theory. Except the fun ones. Which is why I wanted to posit a theory that I’m sure very few of us have actively been thinking about: Is Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, a performance art genius?
For those of you who have been missing out, Dave is a suburban Philly kid who had a desire to achieve stardom and found a lane in comedically slanted rap, using his marketing agency skills (and Bar Mitzvah money) to blow up on Youtube. Make no mistake though, this is not a joke. Lil Dicky is a legit rapper. Some might even say “professional”. All of this internet success lead to tours, and eventually a full length album with features from Snoop Dogg, Brendan Urie, T-Pain and more. That was 2015. Other than an excellent side project under his alter ego Brain in 2017, and a few follow up singles here and there, there’s not been a follow up LD album since his debut.
In fairness, Dave’s been busy with his eponymous show ‘Dave’ on FX. It is a comedic “inspired by” take on his own life and rise to fame. However, much like the latter seasons of Game of Thrones, we’ve blown past the source material. By the end of season 3 he is inarguably more famous as a rapper in the show than he ever has been in real life. As someone who has sung many a pop songs to arenas full of people in my head while running on the treadmill, I take it to be the point and am fully here for this fantastical exploration of ego. And it isn’t like Lil Dicky isn’t making music in the show, he is. Yet other than the title track, and one song from season 2, he hasn’t released any of it. Which is a shame because I really want to hear the full version of “That’s a joke” or “Mr. McAdams” from season 3 where he convinced Rachel McAdams to be in 3 episodes somehow.
Dave is living every hetero millennial boys fantasy through his show and I don’t fault him for this, though of course as an LD fan it leaves me wanting more. However, in lamenting his lack of recent releases, wondering if Dave is indeed still a “Professional Rapper”, a thought began to form. What if this is all a long form performance piece to lead to the next phase of Lil Dicky/Dave’s career. Sort of a Marvel Phase 2 and 3 (the good ones) leading to”Endgame”.
In this case, I argue that Dave’s endgame is to fully become Dave and let go the Lil Dicky persona. We’ve seen glimpses of this throughout the series. Hell, it’s in the title and theme song of the show which asks “Who’s Dave?”. A lot of seasons 2 and 3 were spent wrestling with Dave outgrowing the LD persona, wanting to grow as a person and artist. Peppered throughout seasons 2 and 3 is his struggle with being pigeonholed as a joke rapper, or a meme, yet unable to move past it because he knows he needs the attention if he’s ever going to reach his apex and show people that he is indeed the greatest rapper of his generation. This could not be clearer than in season 3 where he literally fakes his own death, and then capitalizes on it.
Whether in the show or in real life, Dave is famous for over thinking, over analyzing, obsessing, and thinking only in grandeur. So why would he not apply this to an ambitious project that utilizes both his real life, career, and fictional self as mediums for an elaborate performance piece.
My theory is the reason we’ve not received any releases of note from Lil Dicky since the show began is because there is a larger plan at work, and that is for the show to end with Dave laying the LD persona to rest and fully accepting himself as the artist, which will simultaneously take place in real life. In doing so Dave will reconnect the timelines of the show and his real life, allowing for him to move forward in a new artistic chapter that feels more aligned with the artist he has become. When the show ends I am betting (hoping, really) that he will release the music from the show, but a new album as well that finally answers the question, “Who’s Dave?”