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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Who’s Next? A Monthly Musical Obituary

11 December 2017
Not-so-scared-of-death Emma offers us an overview of the life of a memorable artist whose death we grieved last month.

Arizonan born Rapper Lil Peep (real name: Gustav Åhr), whose short but fast paced career carried essences of post-hardcore rap music, emo, hip hop and even classic American rock guitar riffs, passed away on the 15th November shortly after making musical headway in 2017.

By August this year, he had just released his very first EP outside of the Internet fame that he had conquered over the past two years, Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt.1. Peep was due to perform the final gig of the consequent tour – found unconscious on his tour-bus, having ended his night with too many Xanax, this all just two weeks after his 21st birthday.

The resulting sounds are tragically unique, carrying some air of apocalyptic introspective depression, a personal darkly smudged cloud that cloaked something much bigger than just his own mind, owing to a pretty niche microgenre of lo-fi hip hop called cloud rap. The weight of all these musical types carried him from success to success across the world, his darkly haunting guitars and delicate hi-hats obviously struck an opposition to the 21st century world of hip-hop’s jungle remixes and 80s synth recalls. If anyone was going to revive this sound of raw emotional hip-hop it was Lil Peep.

Lil Peep – Awful Things ft. Lil Tracy (Official Video)

The Official “Awful Things” video, from ‘Come Over When You’re Sober (Pt. 1)’ OUT NOW http://lilpeep.lnk.to/sober TOUR TIX: http://www.lilpeep.party/tour Produced by Smokesac and IIVI Video Directed by Sus Boy & Nick Koenig, Produced by Daniel Ostroff Director of Photography, C.J. Brion.

After having garnered an enormously loyal following on Soundcloud and Youtube, he had been producing mixtapes since he was 17 in his Long Island home, and by the time he passed, he had over four dozen tracks on the site each with over 1 million listens. GOTH ANGEL SINNER’ (his twitter handle) was hailed by Pitchfork as the ‘future of emo’, in a young world of social media users demanding a presence and lifestyle from their favourite artists, pressure to be leaving a legacy day-to-day is inescapable, lyrics to absolute in doubt ‘lay me down / but please don’t leave me’ Peep’s inner, and exterior turmoil might as well have led us to predict his demise everyday on his Instagram and snapchat reels he leaves death messages and chronicles his anxious drug abuse, the day of death couldn’t have seemed like any other.

Just as the disenfranchisement that post-punk and grunge exposed in the 90s with Nirvana, this trajectory may be no surprise from the man who wanted to be the “New Kurt Cobain”. It remains not a pastiche, but a recurring truth about the ignorance of the real human soul within an artist – and the fashion for not the rappers but pharmaceutical companies to shell out anti-anxiety medications like Xanax as if it were a Kleenex at a psychiatry office. His family and friends have insisted that his creativity and ambition was bigger than his mental health, that he didn’t want to die, – “He had big goals and dreams for the future”.

His candid exposure of emotional alienation relentlessly broke the masculine bravado that rap music and artists are expected to present; something that the Los Angeles cohort he was a part of – GothBoiClique – produce so honestly; issues with suicide, sexuality and drug use litter existential basslines. Their entire ethos breaks with pretty basic conceptions of Hip-hop that artists like Post Malone have as the last genre of music you would listen to “when you want to get deep”.

witchblades – lil peep x lil tracy

Listen to COME OVER WHEN YOU’RE SOBER (Pt. 1) here: http://lilpeep.lnk.to/sober TOUR TIX: http://www.lilpeep.party/tour prod. bighead x yung cortex shot by: metro blu http://www.lilpeep.party/ http://twitter.com/lilpeep http://instagram.com/lilpeep http://soundcloud.com/lil_peep http://facebook.com/lilpeepmusic

Hip hop for decades has been sampling heavy rock riffs, emotional soul music, and hits the hardest of political points, but the Goth Boy Clique’s resurgence of emo has become internationally significant to a generation like ours; a generation with a cross-cultural understanding of human rights and equality, and an outspoken media platform with which to share our views. We are more liberally intellectual and emotional, socially progressive and inclusive – yet still heartbreakingly isolated from the other 9 billion people on the planet we see everyday on social media, we and Peep have a closing gap to the conversation on mental health, and healing.

In a recent memorial for Lil Peep in Long Island, New York his mother Liza Womack made a plea for people to look beyond someone’s outer appearance before you’re your prejudice on them, “Please do not make assumptions about people or events in ignorance… Try to step outside of your own box and open your mind to new ideas”; he never was one to ‘ride the wave of other genres, [he] wanted to make his own ’, at the memorial for her son, his mother repeated “He was a stubborn, driven, talented, crafty, observant, and tender young man. Gus was also vulnerable.”, – listening to his music is like listening to the end of the world within your own mind, and the collective of people that have come out in passionate respect for Peep proves that this isn’t the end of his energy, but hopefully a new honesty about mental health, drug-use and an eternal legacy for a distinctive young musician.

R.I.P. Peep

Words, Emma Hosking