Lil Peep - LiL PEEP: PART 1
Updated: Mar 9
Review Summary: Raw cloud rap delivered in such a fashion with lyrics that would make Danny Brown and Future shudder.
Whenever I hear the opening guitar chord that starts the clean background piano, setting the stage for the opening track “praying to the sky”, I feel myself sink back into my chair in discomfort. It’s not that the song is bad by any means, it’s completely the opposite. However, this song is just so hauntingly foreboding that it’s unlike any song in the vein of emo-rap, or even rap as a whole. It’s the brutal honesty in the lyrics that it cements itself in being the perfect introductory piece to who and what Lil Peep was.
“Bitch, I'm tatted out my shirt, so I can't work, I make it flip, Pour my 40 in the dirt, then light my dutch and take a sip, I hear voices in my head, they tellin' me to call it quits, I found some Xanax in my bed, I took that shit went back to sleep, They gon' miss me when I'm dead, I lay my head and rest in peace, I'm prayin' to the sky, I don't even know why,”
This short stanza is what lines up being the central lyric of this opening track, setting the emotional and mentally clouded ambiguity that Lil Peep is known for, along with disguising the real emotional trauma behind simple hooks and caricatured lyrics. The atmospheric production seems almost tailored to the lo-fi feel of the album. The following track “the way i see things” portrays Peep as a lonely schizoaffective junkie walking home alone in the rain while extremely high, pondering his mortality. While that wasn’t the first, nor the best example of Peep poking at his inevitable impending doom; it’s by far the most confrontational of these lines that get close to with being more honest than any other rap/r&b songs of this decade, among with many other tracks on here.
“veins“ is one of the older songs that found its way onto this mixtape. It depicts Lil Peep in a deteriorating state of mind, and his only thought of what could be affecting him this way as “...something in the bud, man I need a new plug // I can feel it in my veins.”. It projects the vulnerable feeling that isn’t really in many other modern hip hop albums, and that’s one huge thing I’d like to commend this whole album on.
While Lil Peep didn’t necessarily invent the “emo-rap” sound or concept, starting with this album he started to solidify himself as the one true outliers in the movement. He didn’t have the aggression of fellow SoundCloud rapper XXXtentacion or the synth-driven production of Kid Cudi, but he still impacted the scene, like him or not.
While he didn’t get around to collaborating with these founding fathers of emo trap until releases like “HELLBOY”; “crybaby”; “CÄSTLES II”; the Clams Casino produced track “4 Gold Chains”, and the “Best New Music” dubbed ”Kiss”, ”LiL PEEP - PART ONE” only began to cement this legacy, with the absolute masterclass quality of some of these songs. The opener and the closer “praying to the sky” and “star shopping” set two drastically different tones and themes, yet still are tied together from the same sickness, the same substances and lyrics that would make everyone from Danny Brown to Playboi Carti to Lil Darkie immensely uncomfortable.
Everything on this tape, just like (most) of the songs off of the mentioned Danny Brown’s 2011 album “XXX” present a sense of pure pain and honesty with their lyrics. Everything from “five degrees. To “ghost boy” feature such a destructive repetition that reminds me of something that Kurt Cobain (who’s unnervingly sampled in perfection on “another song”)
would have made if he had made music in this current day. This pure element, inspired also by the likes of Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, seshhollowaterboyz, Gucci Mane, Taking back Sunday, and Phil Elverum, and it also samples everything from Bones to Lil B. It is very apparent Lil Peep was very selective with the music surrounding his presence as he wanted his producers to be creative and stick to a very particular sound.
The instrumentals are all slightly gritty, even lo-fi, and they add to the raw feel that the raps give off. It’s not a sound that you would typically come to love at first, as the tone is so offsetting that it almost tries to push you away from it on initial listens: this is the ultimate culmination of a man, Gustav Åhr — not to be associated with Lil Peep — who would become an extreme-living and spastically manic depressive caricature of Gustav, on its own with the more experimental, yet equally pop-lenient Come Over When You’re Sober: Part 1 and other projects released from late 2017 onward, but this era of his music still holds strong as being some of the most innovative and experimental of its territory. Unlike every other artist that’s ever been helmed under the horridly surface-level term of “SoundCloud Rap,” Gus manifested himself as an outlier from day one, and had (and still posthumously continues to) push the boundaries of not only modern rap, but DIY punk/indie rock/emo, as well as the pop landscape as a whole since his quick ascension to stardom followed by his subsequent death in November of 2017. While Lil Peep’s legacy lives on in many other artists, like Lil Uzi Vert and his song “XO TOUR Lif3,” as well as Juicy J, The 1975, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, the controversial and late XXXTENTACION, as well as Fall Out Boy and ILoveMakonnen among hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other musicians around the world. While Peep’s kitsch for melodic emo-inspired R&B songs wasn’t nearly as much on display besides select tracks, like they were on the near equally perfect crybaby, the California Girls EP , his collaborations with Lil Tracy in castles and CASTLES II, and the transitional breakthrough that was his fourth and final mixtape, HELLBOY, which blew open doors for so many modern artists and singer/songwriters that were too hesitant to even knock in the first place. Plus, while this may be Gus’ first full-length, which had been project produced on a $200 microphone and Garageband, it set the stage for what was to come nearly as perfect as any debut project this decade. With the lingering fear of failure, that I can only parallel this project even slightly with the aforementioned XXX by Danny Brown or Mac Miller’s undeservedly overlooked magnum opus that is his 2014 mixtape Faces; it’s almost like if those two projects melded together, listened to a lot of Phil Elverum, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, seshollowaterboyz, Future, Adolescents, Minor Threat, and Aphex Twin, as it almost stands as its own proclamation of failure and mortality, both lyrically and musically. It’s clear, whether people want to admit it or not, that Gustav Åhr was a creative genius when it came to how selectively he wanted his production to sound, along with his efficacy for hooks and freestyled melodies that can stick into your head for weeks. Ahr might come across as a two-sided character on the first listens to this tape, but reading between the thin lines really takes you into a unique experience where you can truly understand the mixed, even bipolar takes on life that he preached through his music. By prophesying his demise, he left a huge impact on music, and this was just the beginning. While this mixtape may not be the most experimental or essential projects that‘s really needed to understand this point of view, it still serves its purpose as an extremely personal introduction statement from one of the most divisive artists of the last couple years. The full blown cries for help were ignored. With these experiences and lyrics, he crafted the albums he wanted to, creating a new sound within a scene where others have struggled with originality.
Lil Peep, no matter how much hate or slander he gets in any community will always, and I mean always be one of my favorite artists of all time. His music truly spoke out against toxic stereotypes and drug addiction, but due to his later mainstream appeal his music was shoved into the “lame emo-tik-tok-bin“, that is completely the opposite of what his music embodies, no matter your views on it.
“I’ve gotta feeling that I’m not gonna be here, for next year, So let’s laugh a little before I’m gone.”
”....once I got it comin', I love her, she love me, I know that I'm nothing like someone her family want me to be, If I find a way, would you walk it with me?, Look at my face while you talkin' to me, 'Cause we only have one conversation a week, Can I get one conversation at least?, Shout out to everyone makin' my beats, you helpin' me preach, This music's the only thing keepin' the peace when I'm fallin' to pieces….”
Rest in Peace Lil Peep :(
Praying to the Sky, The Way I See Things, High School, Another Song, Five Degrees, Nothing to U, It's Me, Ghost Boy, Veins, Wanna Be
Shame on U
Score - 9.1/10