Lil Dicky‘s animated video for his song “Earth” features a plethora of stars from Justin Bieber to Ariana Grande, but there was one person he wanted to participate that he just couldn’t get, for one of the most mundane reasons in life. Rather than a failure to clear an appearance fee or a superstar schedule making it hard to connect, it seems Dicky missed out on his dream get because the artist he was after changed his number. That artist was Kanye West.
In an interview about the video with Rolling Stone, the comic rapper, he broke down the motivation behind the video’s concept (“Wouldn’t it be funny to cast different artists to play different animals?”), the order in which the various stars signed on to participate (“Charlie Puth was the first person. I think I got Snoop and then Adam Levine, Meghan Trainor. It’s blurry, but I got Bieber pretty early. Ed Sheeran was in early, but he didn’t record until late”), and the logistics of pulling together such a massive endeavor (about half the stars emailed their parts, while Dicky held sessions with the other half).
But the big disappointment wound up forcing Dicky to come up with a creative solution for the lack of Kanye, eventually casting comedian Kevin Hart as the mercurial producer.
I was planning on getting Kanye to go, “I’m Kanye West.” That was my plan. I’m friendly with Kanye. I used to play basketball with him. I have a relationship with him. And I wanted to wait until the video was nearly done because I wanted him to be the last person asked so I could put together the best possible presentation for Kanye. That left me a very limited window to get him on the song. And he’s very hard to get in touch with. He changed his cell phone number and his e-mail. I couldn’t get ahold of him. The animation was so far along that it still had to be his avatar coming out and saying, “And I’m Kanye West.” I still love that joke. I really love it no matter who plays Kanye, but I didn’t leave myself enough time to get ahold of him, so I called Kevin Hart and was like, “Will you play Kanye on this song?” And he was like, ‘Yeah!”
The only other star Dicky wasn’t able to get — but only because he didn’t try — was former president Barack Obama. In Dicky’s own words, though: “I want to save my Obama ask. Who knows when I’ll need Obama?”