Environmental activism takes many forms — attending protests, speaking at hearings, campaigning for green candidates.
Hila Perry is doing something completely different.
Wrapped in a big Earth costume, Perry, or Hila the Earth, uses music and comedy to educate and inspire others about the environment around them. She raps about composting, vegetables and most importantly to her, the Earth.
“I think that lyrics are really easy to remember. People love to dance and sing along and when things rhyme, it’s easier to remember so it’s a great way to learn,” Perry said.
“At the very least, if it gets people to remember to drink more water, I think that’s a really positive thing,” she added.
Similar to Bill Nye the Science Guy, Perry said she hopes to share basic knowledge like the water cycle and how food grows in an engaging way, not only to children but also adults.
“I include so many costumes and color and fun so that kids can engage, but also my lyrics are at a level that adults would be impressed and can learn a lot as well,” Perry said.
A live performance of her single “Wet Ass Planet” posted on Instagram earlier this month got 125,000 likes with lyrics like “Give me two hydrogen, add it to oxygen, same old water been cycling, cycling.”
Perry has been rapping since she was a kid, but started more formally in 2016. She first began rapping and performing stand up comedy on body positivity and sex education, and then started focusing on the environment.
In 2021, her TikTok rapping about the climate in Times Square while dressed up as the planet Earth went viral. She says her dream collaboration would be with the Brooklyn Botanical Garden so people can both interact with systems of the Earth while also listening to songs about the Earth.
“Hip hop is my love language,” she said. “Giving different words and concepts a new light is very fun, and it’s exciting for me to figure out how to rhyme cruciferous, for example.”
Perry grew up in Lower Manhattan, where she didn’t have a lot of access to nature. But after traveling to other parts of the world, she saw the lack of nature in her life and realized, “the Earth is the most important thing and that everything we have comes from our planet.”
Perry began living a zero waste lifestyle, using less plastic by bringing her own utensils and cups to events. Outside of rapping about the Earth, Perry said she also goes to environmental protests, keeps up to date with environmental legislation and participates in volunteer cleanups.
For Earth Day, you can find Hila the Earth spitting verses through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, performing at Herbert Von King Park at 4 p.m. and ending at House of Yes at 6:30 p.m.
“I hope that when people see me, they just get really happy and inspired and feel like they’re the Earth, because that’s what we all are — we’re part of the Earth,” Perry said.