Dave Burd, who performs under the rap name 'Lil Dicky', is a musician and actor who has been accused of a lot of things. He's been called juvenile, immature and his show has been branded puerile by critics.
But the rapper-cum-comedian has defended his work and proudly talked about his Jewish upbringing in Pennsylvania, but just how Jewish is he?
Lil Dicky, who describes himself as 'a genius', has just graced the cover of The Hollywood Reporter as his third season of Dave premieres. The TV show is based on Burd’s life, written and produced by the rapper with Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld producer Jeff Schaffer.
Born David Andrew Burd, the funny-man took his rap name from the fact he required multiple surgeries on his penis after he was born with a tangled urethra and hypospadias - a condition that affects one in every 200 babies in the US.
According to Burd, this led to an intense insecurity that would be the reason behind his phallus-heavy stage name and the main theme of his hit series.
“I was very self-conscious about so many things,” Burd told Distractify. “When I was born, I had surgery on my penis. So, from a very young age, body trauma and physical insecurity has been, like, top of my mind. I would avoid hanging out with girls because I was afraid my penis was too weird. Every step of the way it was the total top of my mind.”
Burd was raised in an upper-middle-class Jewish home in Pennsylvania and attended the same high school as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Cheltenham High School.
In his song, Professional Rapper, Burd told The Canadian Jewish News he included real conversations with his parents, who “are just absurd characters, and classic Jewish parents so I felt I had to document it. I think who I am as a person has a lot to do with my parents, and I think that’s important to show. I’m probably as neurotic as I am because my parents were overprotective and made me think about shit all the time.”
In his teenage years, Burd attended the culturally Jewish summer Camp Kweebec, an overnight summer camp for boys and girls aged 6-16. Whilst performing onstage, hip-hop group 112 asked Burd to open for them: “I was this little rapping kid and they liked me.”
On his first trip to Israel in 2017, Burd performed two sold-out shows in Tel Aviv and ventured on a DIY Birthright trip with a camel ride and visits to religious sites. This was because Birthright initially rejected him. “It was full, they accepted me months later, but all my friends had already gone.”
Burd used his $6,000 bar mitzvah money (approx £5,000) to fund “Ex-Boyfriend,” the first music video on his debut mixtape “So Hard.”
His parents were not wholly supportive of this but Burd defended his decision to blow the cash on Jimmy Kimmel saying: “What am I gonna do, buy a couch when I’m 28 years old?”
His first music video he released on YouTube went viral overnight with 1 million views. Yet his parents and girlfriend begged him not to drop it because it would make it harder for him to get another job.
Burd believes he’s in the running for most Jewish rapper in the game. He told The Canadian Jewish News: “I think I’ve overblown my Judaism in terms of how actually observant I am. I’m not observant in the slightest but I definitely identify culturally with it. On my mix tape cover [So Hard] I had a Star of David, but maybe that’s more a product of, what else was I going to put on fire that’s, like, a sign of myself?”
Like his icon Larry David, Burd has used his culture and his Judaism as focal points in his content. His music is littered with references to Matzah, Israeli flags, a menorah, and a synagogue makes a cameo in the music video for his Jewish-themed song “All K”.
All K's lyrics include multiple references to Judaism including:
‘Watchu know about a balla/born and raised on the Kaballah/tryna make a dollar, until I’m cakin and stacking challah.”
"Afikoman in a flow, that's a pro."
Yet some of his more controversial songs have been inspired by Hitler’s speeches that Burd believed looked like a rap performance and his song 'Jewish Flow' features him rap battling Adolf Hitler.
The chorus in “Jewish Flow” goes: 'Sicker than the Holocaust/That motherf**kin’ Jewish flow/That Third Reich raw/Concentration camp cold/Now we rollin’ in that motherf**kin’ dough…That Auschwitz sick gas chamber kinda sh*t’.
However, Burd does not think the Jewish community is that outraged by him: “The benefit of being an up-and-coming cool rapping Jew outweighs me being offensive, so the Jewish groups have pretty much left me alone.”
He also claimed that the song Jewish Flow “is not really about him [Hitler], but in the chorus I do mention the Holocaust, and I wanted to, in some way, use the Holocaust in the video. I did a lot of research and I saw a lot of Hitler’s speeches and thought ‘Wow, he’s so animated’ and it really looks he’s rapping, so we just went with it.”
The Jewish rapper shares the same Jewish manager as Ariana Grande and Justin Beiber, Scooter Braun.
The now-deceased Jewish rapper Mac Miller gave Burd advice when he was starting out. Burd tweeted after Miller’s passing, “when I began my career he went out of his way to talk to me on the phone and give me advice. an amazing artist and human being.”
so sad. mac miller was a great dude. when i began my career he went out of his way to talk to me on the phone and give me advice. an amazing artist and human being— Dave (@lildickytweets) September 7, 2018
At his first meeting with Jeff Schaffer, who’d written on Seinfeld, Burd told Schaffer he was going to be the biggest entertainer in the history of entertainment. “And I’m looking at this guy, and he looks like a piece of broccoli had a bar mitzvah, and I’m like, ‘This is hilarious, it’s like cartoon-level delusion.’ And then I start thinking, like, ‘What a great engine for a TV show, because what if he’s right?’”