It’s been over a year since Lil Dicky’s last release, the infuriatingly ubiquitous, somewhat problematic, and generally confounding single, “Freaky Friday.” In the interim, Dicky has been oddly quiet, popping up in the news when FX announced they’d purchased a sitcom he’d co-created back in February, but conspicuously absent from the headlines otherwise.
Early Friday morning, Dicky re-entered the spotlight in a big way, giving the public their first taste of the material he’s been working on during his seemingly voluntary exile: the bewildering, cameo-packed, environmentally conscious new single, “Earth.”
Before I go any further, I should mention: Dicky has nobly stated his intentions to donate any proceeds this song generates to organizations working to combat climate change. On this point, I don’t wish to take anything away from him. Inevitably, people on the internet will quibble about whether his philanthropic intentions are cynical or sincere, but once you strip away all this discourse, it’s genuinely difficult to get mad about the real possibility of millions of dollars being donated towards a vital cause. Certainly, I could think of worse ways Dicky could use his platform.
Furthermore, the amount of buy-in Dicky was able to obtain from other celebrities towards this cause is nothing short of admirable. Speaking strictly from a logistical standpoint, I can only imagine the number of phone calls, emails, and scheduling conflicts his team would have had to manage to create a song featuring the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Kevin Hart, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Embiid, and nearly 30 other gigantic names in music and entertainment. “Earth,” with its potential to unite a number of disparate fan bases towards a common aim, is the type of spectacle that could foreseeably mobilize a groundswell of support.
It’s a shame, then, that the song is so unambiguously terrible. Watching its accompanying music video, I couldn’t help but wonder if the massive stars Dicky recruited to work on it had any idea how the final product would turn out, or if he simply conned them into attaching their names to it by making lofty, Fyre-Festival-style claims about providing a “luxury humanitarian experience” he ultimately couldn’t deliver.
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After spending just a few seconds vaguely establishing the premise that the Earth is currently staring down an environmental crisis, the video begins in earnest with a minute-long skit where Dicky gets into a petty argument with a group of children playing on the streets of Los Angeles. One of the kids tells Dicky to “suck his butt,” to which Dicky—sharp-witted as ever—replies, “how ‘bout you suck my butt?” convolutedly giving way to an animated sequence that takes up the remainder of the video’s seven-minute run-time.
Given this skit serves little other function than to showcase Dicky’s inability to win arguments against literal children, it’s unclear why the video doesn’t launch directly into the song and its corresponding animation. Much more concerning, however, is just how little time the video allocates to providing actionable information about the underlying causes of the environmental issues Dicky seemingly wishes to raise awareness about. I can appreciate he didn’t want to overwhelm the audience by delving too deep into scientific minutiae or heavy-handed fear-mongering, but by providing absolutely no information whatsoever, I’d argue he overcorrected a bit too far in the wrong direction.
Beginning about 90 seconds into the video, the song itself is an extremely generic pop ploy, scored by the type of faux-tropical production Rihanna once described to Diplo as a “reggae song at an airport.” Sincere to a fault, it’s saccharine chorus—“we love the Earth, it is our planet / we love the Earth, it is our home”—is much more successful at conjuring images of kindergarten choir recitals, than it is any hit song currently climbing the charts. Listening to “Earth” for the first time, I was convinced I was consuming a piece of media intended for children. The song’s juvenile jokes about the size of baboons’ anuses and the video’s vibrant CGI animation only added to this aesthetic. Viewing it through this lens, the song almost started to make sense.
Yet, just as I was adjusting to this newfound perspective, Dicky undermined this assumption entirely with a truly baffling non-sequitur about human orgasms—"fellas don’t you love to cum when you have sex? / And I heard women orgasms are better than a dick’s"—that not only strayed from the song’s theme but subsequently produced a whole host of new questions about who the song’s intended audience is.
Regardless of whether it was made for children or adults, it’s notable that the song’s bigger issue is it ultimately does a poor job of raising awareness about climate change on even the most fundamental level. Dicky refers to the phenomenon explicitly as “global warming,” which is a term no longer used by scientists, he suggests that “[Leonardo DiCaprio] knows more about the Earth and how we’re fucking it up than anybody,” which seems inaccurate, and he spends more of the song’s runtime making a joke about HPV than, say, talking about oil companies, greenhouse gas emissions, factory farming, or anything else that is actually relevant to the topic at hand.
Of course, I’m well aware some of this analysis is a little high-minded, considering Lil Dicky’s only aim, quite obviously, was to make a silly song that fits in with the rest of his output. Yet, even in this regard, this song doesn’t quite work. Think of them what you may, but at least his other songs follow a consistent premise. You can’t say the same thing about “Earth,” which, at one point, breaks its nebulous theme entirely to point out that men wear pants to hide their erections. It’s less clever than it is strange, which makes it downright surreal that he somehow roped fucking Leonardo DiCaprio, of all people, into ending the song by saying “this might be my favorite song ever. It’s awesome!”
It also strikes me as possible that all these oddities are an intentional part of the spectacle Dicky sought to orchestrate with this song. Perhaps he intended for people to write about how baffling it is, so it can attract more attention, rack up more streams, and generate more money for charity?
On the off chance this is the case, I’m happy to have been a pawn in his game. Having written this, I can hold my head up high, knowing I did my part to contribute to the cause.