You’re probably familiar with America’s favorite suburban, fro’d, white rapper, Lil Dicky. He’s a cheltenham native, close to Philadelphia, and worked at a major advertising firm until deciding to trade in the office for the stage.
He released his first album, Professional Rapper, a couple years ago now. It was pretty good, couple good singles, you know how that goes.
But for me, the most interesting part of Dicky’s ascendance is the title of his most popular song: “save dat money ft. Fetty Wap.”
That’s really the title. It’s about saving money instead of spending it, and the entire music video is just Dicky walking around yachts or dancing in clubs that are not his. He just walked up to the owner or the bouncer or whoever, told them he was shooting a music video, and they let him do whatever he wanted.
The song was a bit of a hit. But it interests me for a very specific reason. Unlike the status-quo rapper, Lil Dicky only takes himself seriously some of the time. Most of his songs are complete jokes, and he’ll be the first to admit that one of his goals is to bring “anti-rap” back to the forefront of the music industry.
He has Fun with his music, something that’s incredibly important and rare in the chest-beating rap game. And because he focuses on his own enjoyment, he reaches considerable heights.
There’s a trend that you’ve probably noticed in the psyche of the modern worker. They go to work in the morning at a job they don’t enjoy in search of money, and therefore happiness, security, their children’s future, etc. And by the time they return home at night, they’re completely exhausted, drained, and unsure why they left the house in the first place.
Alan Watts, an incredibly interesting British philosopher, gives this career advice: “I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”
This, however, is only part of the philosophy behind Lil Dicky’s success. The rest deals with something very simple: the fact that he treats his vocation, self expression, as a game. He plays, he doesn’t work, and therefore can work and work and work without ever tiring. It gives him the energy to produce what he needs to move to the top.
Watts puts it this way: “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
Dicky is successful because he has fun and treats his work as play.
Is it paradoxical to ask us to do the same? Too idealistic? probably.
Still worth thinking about? Certainly.