Yesterday afternoon, Lil Dicky posted an announcement on social media regarding the end of his creative hiatus, stating that “anyone who’s been patiently waiting for the past three years for me to do something and, like, wondering what the fuck I’ve been doing, tomorrow you’ll see what’s been going on. It’s going to be a really good payoff in my opinion.”
This morning, we found out that the “payoff” Dicky was referring to—the one he has taken three years to build anticipation for—“Freaky Friday,” is a song that rips off the premise of a bad 2003 movie starring Lindsay Lohan. Interestingly enough, this 2003 movie was a remake of a 1976 movie, which itself was an adaptation of a 1972 novel. Ostensibly, it took Lil Dicky three years’ worth of dedicated artistic focus to rip off a comedic premise for the fourth time. Welcome back, Dicky.
As per Dicky’s usual marketing treatment, “Freaky Friday” arrived this morning, bundled with a corresponding music video, without which the concept of the song is not explained in enough detail for the narrative to make sense. This is particularly deplorable because the premise of the song isn’t even all that involved. At the beginning of the video, Dicky and Chris Brown are simultaneously complaining about how much they’d like to “be somebody else” when a waiter with mystical powers grants their wish, causing the two of them to swap bodies.
It’s interesting that this man possesses an apparent ability to transpose the minds and bodies of people but chooses to make a living working as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant, but hey, who am I to judge his career choices? For his part, Brown features on this song as part of his confusing new strategy to collaborate extensively with rappers, like Dicky and Joyner Lucas, who traffic almost exclusively in ill-conceived songs with elaborate concepts.
The video barely makes it 10 seconds before its first cringeworthy offense: an uninspired joke about how the wait staff at Chinese restaurants don’t speak English. Considering his background in advertising, one would think that Dicky would realize that this isn’t the best reintroduction to his brand, but evidently, this notion eluded him. He is intent on reminding you immediately that, at his worst, he is less creative than the worst former Vine “comedian.”
I suppose this might be funny to the same people who think it’s funny to suggest that black people love watermelon, or Mexicans drive cabs, but it’s not exactly befitting of the comedic sensibilities of someone who has spoken in interviews about his aspirations to make a movie with Judd Apatow. It’s about as funny as those “prank” videos where people drive around in cars and throw eggs at the less fortunate. I have to hand it to Dicky, though, at least he knows his audience.
From this point onward, the video ramps up its absurdity to extreme levels, as Dicky and Brown wake up in each other’s bodies and learn what it’s like to live a day in each other’s shoes. Here are a few moments that stood out to me:
- Dicky makes no fewer than four references to the diminutive size of his penis—like a bullying victim who is trying to limit the extent of his bullying by mocking himself first—as if he thinks we’ve forgotten that his rap name is “Lil Dicky,” effectively beating a dead horse and then parading its corpse through a crowded public area and yelling about how small its dick is.
- Dicky refers to Chris Brown’s documented history of mercilessly abusing women as “controversial,” as if he believes there’s some room for doubt in a case that is as open and shut as the Watergate Scandal.
- The video ends with completely superfluous cameos from Ed Sheeran, DJ Khaled, and Kendall Jenner, as if Dicky believes that the audience will find something inherently funny about their own ability to recognize celebrities, somehow becoming the worst endorsement Kendall Jenner has ever participated in (including that one where she gave Pepsi to a cop to ostensibly end police brutality).
The worst part about this video, however, is Dicky’s tone-deaf exploration about the race differential between himself and Brown. It’s an area that has gotten him into trouble before, like on his song “White Dude,” where he misses the mark in his attempt to satirize the absurdity of white privilege by making an entire song where he just brags extensively about the benefits that this privilege affords him.
On “Freaky Friday,” he falls into this trap yet again. There was absolutely no reason that he had to bring up racial politics at all, but to the extent that he does, he limits it to “ain’t nobody judging 'cause I’m black” when Chris Brown wakes up in his skin to “Can I really say the n-word?!” when the reverse is true. The logical conclusion of this is that Dicky apparently believes that the historical and modern oppression encountered by black people in America is alleviated in some way by their ability to reappropriate a once hateful slur without repercussions. There’s a lot to unpack here, but I almost feel like everything I could write to illustrate why this perspective is misguided is self-explanatory.
As someone who is making a handsome living working in a historically black art form, it is Dicky’s responsibility to find a more respectful way to discuss these issues or he just simply shouldn’t discuss them at all. He can try and hide behind the classic comedian defense of “it was just a joke,” but at this point, even comedians who rail against “PC culture” will openly acknowledge that it’s wrong to perform in blackface. Even if Dicky were to try to defend himself by claiming that this is satire, this defense would be invalid because satire requires an identifiable target in order for it to be credible. In this particular instance, the only possible target Dicky could be satirizing is himself.
All of this is particularly unfortunate because Dicky actually possesses legitimate talent. I confess this against my better judgments, but there are certainly moments in his back-catalog that prove him to be a deft songwriter and a technically gifted rapper. Even "Freaky Friday," despite its many flaws, is undeniably catchy. It’s sad to watch him waste his talents on ill-conceived songs like this. It’s like watching Spider-Man use his web-shooters to manufacture hammocks, or watching someone who possesses an otherworldly ability to transfigure bodies and minds work at a casual-dining restaurant.