Life and Legacy: Lil Peep

By Amy Szmik, Contributor
[Photo Courtesy of NTS]

Emo-rap sensation, Lil Peep, left a legacy not just on music, but on pop culture. Considered the “future of emo” by Pitchfork, his tragic death on Nov. 15, 2017, left a mark on the music industry for musicians and fans. He was notable for pioneering both the emo and SoundCloud rap genres as well as for being outspoken on mental illness. Lil Peep’s mix of emo-infused rap revolutionized a genre and millions of people around the globe still relate to the honesty in his lyrics.

Read more: Album Review: Princess Nokia – A Girl Cried Red

Born Gustav Elijah Åhr, Lil Peep rose to prominence on SoundCloud, posting mixtapes after leaving Long Island for Los Angeles to pursue a future in music. While in LA, he met JGRXXN, Ghostmane, and Craig Xen who were part of the rap collective, Schemaposse, which Lil Peep later joined.

His first mixtape, LiL PEEP; PART ONE, dropped in 2015 and garnered over 4,000 plays in the first week. Upon its release, the popularity gained the attention of fans and other artists alike. He released his first EP, Feelz, at the end of 2015, but it was his Hellboy and Crybaby mixtapes that put him on the map. Both released in 2016, around the time  Lil Peep joined the LA-based rap collective GothBoiClique after leaving Schemaposse in April 2016. His success from the Hellboy and Crybaby mixtape led him to go on his first tour, appropriately named “The Peep Show,” which lasted from April to May 2017. 

After “The Peep Show” tour, he relocated to London to separate himself from GothBoiClique and his drug history back in LA. His popularity was rising and with that came attention. A few months after he left LA, Lil Peep released his debut album entitled Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt.1, which dropped Aug. 15, 2017. Debuting on the Billboard 200 at 168, the album made its peak at 38. Driven by the album’s momentum, Lil Peep embarked on a small-scale world tour in early September.

Tragically, Lil Peep was found dead inside his tour bus on November 15 in Tucson, Arizona. He was scheduled to play that evening. The cause of death was ruled as an accidental overdose from a mix of marijuana, Xanax, cocaine and Fentanyl. He turned 21 just 14 days prior. 

While Lil Peep’s sound, which wasn’t fully rap or emo, divided listeners’ opinions of his music, his death brought on an outpouring of tribute from the music community. His music resonated with people all over the world. He was charismatic and his connection with fans drew people to him. People found solace in his melancholy lyrics where they could relate to his pain. It was through his ability to speak to people that he was seen as a figure who fans could rely on. 

Lil Peep’s death caused a surge in the popularity of his music with the single “Awful Things” entering the Billboard 100. His music streams have also racked up. More of his music was being released because of how many songs he had recorded prior to his death. His second full-length album, Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2, was released Nov. 9, 2018. The album itself was recorded while he was in London recording Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 1. Additionally, EDM-producer, Marshmello, dropped “Spotlight,” which was Lil Peep was working on before he died. There’s still a possibility that more of Lil Peep’s music will be released due to the number of songs he recorded. 

Lil Peep’s legacy is still strong today with a huge fanbase that has continually grown. A documentary appropriately titled Everybody’s Everything will be released Nov. 12, 2019. The film will give insight into Lil Peep’s personal life and how he brought the new genre of emo-rap to the forefront.

Through his life and death, Lil Peep has become a symbol for those who feel like they cannot relate to anyone. His music, and who he was as a person, caused him to have such a great influence. 

Check out Lil Peep’s single, “Awful Things”, below: 


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