On April 18, 2019, rapper Lil Dicky made his first appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show to premiere a sneak peek of his latest project, "Earth." A trailer had also been released a day prior, unveiling the most star-studded cast of celebrities since Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" music video. Numerous questions floated around the project, such as what exactly it was and what its purpose would be. This is a fair judgment as the "Freaky Friday" rapper isn't necessarily the first person that comes to mind when one thinks of environmental conservation and saving the planet. However, what resulted was a modern, young adult-oriented call to action that almost comes off as a "We Are the World," but much less familiar in nature.
Music Video Breakdown
Lil Dicky - Earth (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
The music video opens with news clippings concerning the wildfires plaguing California, noting climate change to be their largest perpetrator. It then pans out onto a city street full of irate passersby and a group of the most delinquent children you've ever seen. This intro showcases other forms of pollution, including air pollution from the exhaust of car tailpipes and litter layering the ground. We are then introduced to Lil Dicky himself in an interaction with the aforementioned young malefactors that ends up being less than cordial, with a slew of name calling from the kids and unfazed retaliation from Dicky. This is also one's first hint that this video is not for the young or faint at heart. In the commotion, a boy who was being harassed by the group goes to pick up after the mess they've left behind and finds a book that reveals the music video's second phase and cues the actual song.
Within the book, we are introduced to a colorful animated world with an animated Lil Dicky serving as our host. We are then shortly introduced to the first characters of the video with a baboon played by Justin Bieber and a zebra voiced none other by Ariana Grande. This begins the pattern that makes up the rest of the video, with celebrities (mostly singers) taking on the voices of various animals and each animal having a line or two about what they do, with most being crude or explicit references that, again, are not designed for a young audience. There are also scenes that explore countries and famous locations, paying homage to some of the planet's greatest locales (while throwing in a light WWII reference for safe measure).
Towards the middle of the video, the song is stopped in favor of a brief rap monologue by Lil Dicky himself, commenting on the overall stupidity of man and the nature of the conflict that has corrupted humanity. He advises us that we all should just "chill" and respect all the amazing accomplishments we've had as a collective. This also leads into a short mention of humanity's sexual interests (making for a fun little edit for a YouTube video to be posted on a family channel). It then returns to exploring parts of the Earth with vocals by Grande evident in the background. This then leads to another monologue where Dicky interacts with Grande and Bieber about the state of our planet and the fact that if we don't get it together, we could inevitably die. He also mentions how there are a vast number of people who don't believe that global warming is real, which could be viewed as an indirect but obvious jab towards the current U.S. president, Donald Trump. Actor Leonardo Dicaprio also makes a cameo towards the video's ending. After a short credits section, Dicky promotes a website called WeLoveTheEarth.org and states that scientists believe we have a very limited 12 years left to turn around the environmental crisis our planet is facing. The video then promptly ends.
The concept overall is something the entertainment industry has seen before, with the two previous "We are the World" videos. However, this takes that concept and turns it completely on its head. Through this "Earth" video, Lil Dicky has demonstrated what could be considered the most unorthodox and unexpected approach to Earth conservation the planet has ever seen. Through the use of adult language and crude humor, I'm sure its a video that One Million Moms will be tearing to shreds here within the next few days, but I actually feel there is something of value here. The video is a humorous and refreshing (dare I say, genius) approach to communicating the imperative nature of our planet's declining health.
Sure it's not the cleanest or most appropriate method to do so, but it does what it's supposed to in reaching the audience it was designed for. The teenage/young adult audience probably has the largest online presence to date, and in a world now controlled by the Internet, it is a rather smart move to create a campaign with such an audience in mind. It balances moments of absurdity with glimmers of enlightenment, explicating some of the biggest problems facing humanity and attributing them to the ignorant nature we've developed as a collective. It's clear that Dicky produced this project with only the best intention: to try to wake up humanity so we may finally confront the mess we've made.
With all that being said, I know in my heart the video will be received in one of two ways: with open arms or with confused disgust. Either way, it's definitely garnering attention as it is currently (as of 9:00 p.m. Friday, April 19th) trending number one on YouTube with 8.6 million views so far. Lil Dicky also mentions within the music video that any profits generated by purchases and streams of the song will go directly to charity, creating a unique but generous fundraising campaign.
So what's next for the state of our planet? It's too early to tell, but I can say this with confidence: if more people begin to attain our attention in the nature that a comedic rapper can, then we may just be heading in the right direction in the preservation of our planet.