Millions all over the world are fans of Lil Dicky, a rapper known for his funny and incredibly complex lyrics. But Dave Burd, the man behind the dick joke name, is hoping to show a new side of himself with his FXX series “Dave.” Speaking with Variety at the Television Critics Association press tour in January, Burd says that he purposely chose the current name of the series over “Lil Dicky” for a simple reason.
“I’m sick of being called Lil Dicky when I meet a person,” Burd says. “I love being a rapper and I picked the perfect rap name but I’m certainly Dave. That’s who I am. Lil Dicky is one of my major projects — probably the biggest project Dave will ever conceive — but I think the show is about the guy behind Lil Dicky, who I really feel everyone might appreciate.”
Loosely based on Burd’s real life, “Dave” centers on a suburban neurotic man in his late-20s who has convinced himself that he’s destined to be one of the best rappers of all time. Burd has been outspoken from the outset of his music career that his ambition was to get into television and film as a comedian. That hasn’t stopped him, though, from making a major impact in the music world.
His album “Professional Rapper” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the comedy, rap and independent charts, and featured the multi-platinum single “Save Dat Money.” Another of his singles, “FreakyFriday,” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has gone on to achieve more than one billion streams, and multi-platinum status in over a dozen countries.
In the beginning of the show, the titular Dave is already somewhat established as Lil Dicky with a popular YouTube video to his name. But what he wants more than anything is to move beyond the fleeting nature of internet fame and establish himself as the real deal.
“Season 1 is all about getting legitimacy and going from being this YouTube sensation to people actually taking me seriously,” Burd says.
Burd admits the difference between rapping and writing and acting in a TV series is like “day and night,” but that he has felt incredible watching the show take shape.
“The best part is all these random moments and notes that I’ve written down over the years getting turned into scenes,” he says. “You’re sitting there on set and there’s like 75 people and millions of dollars of equipment capturing this one 20-second thing that was so funny to you four years ago. All these things that you’ve been thinking about for so long getting created by some of the most talented people in the world is such a satisfying feeling.”
He also admits though that he rarely feels satisfied with his accomplishments, always wanting to go back and tweak things to get them as close to perfect as possible. That is one reason why there has been a nearly five year (and counting) gap between his first album and his second.
Working on a TV show doesn’t afford him that chance, however.
“In TV, you’ll be shooting a scene and I’ll be like ‘Do we have it?’ And they say we do but it doesn’t matter because we have to move on to the next scene,” he says. “Then I get this feeling of anxiety but I can’t even focus on that because 10 minutes later I have to star in another scene. It’s that feeling of trusting the process more. You don’t have time to perfect every little moment the way you do with music.”
Still, FX is well known for allowing creators to take all the time they need to develop and write new seasons, as they have with such shows as “Atlanta” and “Fargo.” Burd doesn’t have a timeline in mind for how often he wants to put a season out, but wants to strike as much of a balance as he can between his music career, his personal life and his burgeoning television career.
The show represents a new chapter of Burd’s life, which is good, as he doesn’t see a long future for himself in the rap game. “I’m 31,” he says. “No one’s going to care about listening to me rap at 42 years old.”
And even if he is never truly satisfied with his work, he is taking in this moment for all that it is.
“It’s definitely one of the moments where I feel like I’ve made it in a way, because one of my main goals got accomplished,” he says. “If I made a bad version of my show I wouldn’t feel that way. But I feel like I’ve made a really good version of my show so I’m very excited.”
“Dave” premieres March 4 at 10 p.m. on FXX. It streams next-day on FX on Hulu.