Lil Dicky had a lot to prove going into his debut album, Professional Rapper. Coming off of his 2013 debut mixtape, So Hard, Dicky proved he could make comedic rap songs that through their content and comedic element were more relatable to a white suburban male audience than someone’s music like Rick Ross or 2 Chainz. This new approach to rap, hilarious lyrics and concepts fully realized through impressively illustrative music videos, such as his first viral video, ‘Ex-Boyfriend’ and further videos ‘Lemme Freak’ and ‘White Crime’ led to Lil Dicky to go viral. But can this viral rapper who thrives off of engaging YouTube videos make a cohesive, full length album?
Professional Rapper is filled with Lil Dicky’s bread and butter, the funny storyline songs that made him go viral with ‘Ex-Boyfriend’ such as ‘Lemme Freak,’ ‘Professional Rapper (feat. Snoop Dogg),’ ‘Pillow Talking (feat. Brain),’ and ‘Classic Male Pregame.’ These songs are where Lil Dicky typically excels. Dicky’s other strong point is his topical songs, which focus on a subject in a way that relate to white culture or typical white male tendencies, which ironically contrast typical rap songs that represent black and hip hop culture, such as ‘White Crime,’ ‘$ave Dat Money (feat. Fetty Wap & Rich Homie Quan),’ and ‘Personality (feat. T-Pain),’
Lil Dicky succeeds on these songs in making purposely crafted, comedic rap songs. ‘Lemme Freak,’ is an extension of his initial signature song, ‘Ex-Boyfriend,’ effortlessly replacing it while showing growth both in it’s lyrics, autotuned singing compared to his slightly annoying singing on ‘Ex-Boyfriend’ and more professional visuals. ‘White Crime,’ is Dicky’s grimiest song yet, while sticking to his typical stick of coming up with as many outlandish yet oddly true white stereotypes. ‘$ave Dat Money,’ finds Dicky blending his usually funny lyrics with a Mustard-type beat, Fetty Wap hook and Rich Homie Quan verse, all which have been used to make hits in the last year. ‘$ave Dat Money’ is Dicky’s clearest attempt at a radio hit on the album, and has already seen radio and club play.
The most well-crafted song that wasn’t a single is ‘Professional Rapper,’ a song featuring Snoop Dogg and Dicky in forth in an interview scenario where Dicky is trying to get the job as a rapper. The song opens the album as a memo to Dicky’s naysayers or listeners who simply do not understand his lane. The song does a good job of explaining how Lil Dicky fits into the rap game while displaying Dicky’s technical and comedic ability.
‘Work (Paid for That?)’ is another non-single stand out track because of it’s energy and infectious hook but showcases Lil Dicky moving away from his lane of making relatable rap music. While funny, although sacrificing some comedy for catchiness, ‘Work’ consists of Dicky talking about all the ways he’s getting paid now that he is a rapper and talks about how much his old day job sucked. This is a concept that any rapper could use, but works well for Dicky because all of the funny scenarios he can talk about, signature to his style, and level of detail pertaining to his life in his verses.
This leads to the discussion of ‘Antagonist I’ and ‘..II,’ which feature Dicky wanting to rap hard because his favorite music isn’t comedic rap, but rather the stuff where artists are “spazzing”, which makes sense because his favorite rappers aren’t Lonely Island but rather Drake, Jay Z and Lil Wayne. Songs like this address a point, but aren’t entirely captivating. They sound more like bars than an actual song. If Dicky really wants his new brand of comedic, relatable yet quality rap to be accepted, songs like these aren’t helping. Rather, he should blend this style of hard rap songs with his signature element, which he successfully does on ‘White Crime,’ ‘$ave Dat Money,’ and many others.
The interludes mainly featuring his parents and one featuring comedian Hannibal Burress are funny, although not as funny as his music. The ones with his parents are recordings of actual conversations that they didn’t know were being recorded. Although these offer an insightful look into Dicky’s actual life, after the first few plays, they get old and add unnecessary cruft to the album.
‘Molly (feat. Brandon Urie),’ is the most personal song on ‘Professional Rapper,’ leaving Dicky at his most vulnerable, but is also the album’s weakest link. The song is about Dicky’s girlfriend who broke up with him because she couldn’t commit to being in a relationship with a full-time rapper, oddly a reason many woman want to be with men. Although the song is touching, and the hook is beautiful, the instrumental and Dicky’s flow are musically lacking.
‘Pillow Talking,’ the 10 minute epic where Dicky goes through the strangest post-sex conversation with a girl in rap verse, is entertaining but feels more like you’re listening to a movie than enjoying a song. 10 minutes of the same beat and hook over and over is overkill. Dicky falls into the same trap on ‘Lemme Freak For Real Tho (Outro),’ where Dicky croons on drenched in autotune for another four minutes, almost as long the original song. While oddly beautiful, this song drags out ‘Lemme Freak’ to unneeded proportions
Professional Rapper is a noble attempt by Lil Dicky to create the first great comedic rap album. While largely it exceeds in this goal without making a completely joking album, it is bogged down by interludes, excessively long songs and a few unimpressive attempts at otherwise solid concepts. Dicky definitely shows promise as a rapper through a diverse range of songs and instrumentals and creates a compelling yet flawed album.