Lil Peep was more than just a rapper. His voice resonated beyond the Soundcloud URL. Peep externalized his struggles with anxiety, depression, and drug use, so the millions of people who listened to him knew that they were not alone. Peep’s output acted as shoulder to lean on in strong form, his croons showed you that he cared, his lyrics showed you that he understood, his pain showed you that you weren’t the only one suffering. Unfortunately, this aperture of emotion, internal agony, and wrestle with addiction is what lead to Lil Peep’s death; a tragic end to a transcendent career. However, his voice will forever echo amongst the lives he changed with his music.
Countless times, by countless publications, Peep has been classified as the ‘future of emo’. He was apart of a collective entitled Gothboiclique, which also consisted of artists like Lil Tracy, Cold Hart, and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Peep’s sound consisted of reverberated guitar samples and cloud rap-esque synths, combined with the traditional 808s and hi-hats of modern day trap music. Songs like ‘White Wine’ ‘Beamer Boy’ and ‘Crybaby’ sampled prolific acts from the gloomy, melodramatic sounds of indie and emo music such as The Microphones and Real Friends.
This combination between sounds resulted in a convergence of communities, as Peep rallied kids from both sides of the musical spectrum. Punk and hardcore kids were found in the same venues as hip-hop kids, and they were both singing along to the same songs. The sounds and emotions Peep explored in his music resonated beyond genres, and the pain that his music oozed served as the grip that brought these people from different backgrounds together.
Whilst still relatively underground, Lil Peep played a major part in paving the way for the current sound in hip-hop. Songs like ‘X0 Tour Life’ by Lil Uzi Vert, and ‘I Fall Apart’ by Post Malone, all follow in the same vein of Peep’s hazy, emo-trap sound. The countless murmurs of hip-hop’s ‘punk phase’ began with Lil Peep and the Gothboiclique. These artists wore their emotions as armour before self-reflection earned you a billboard placement, basically creating the formula for the second wave of self-aware, emotional hip-hop post-Take Care.
Lil Peep’s style and social media presence also conveyed a sense of self-expression, as devices such as twitter contained a hive for his thoughts, and his body acted as a blank canvas for his feelings. Lil Peep’s copious amount of tattoos all acted as an ode to a particular moment in his life. Tattoos such as the centipede, his mother’s birthday, and his own birthday symbolically represent hate, love, and life respectively. While many would be skeptical about his stream of conscious style when it came to tattoos, Peep was unfazed. These tattoos represented his story, success, and legacy.
While not necessarily an activist, Peep spoke openly against themes such as homophobia and racism on social media. He regularly spoke about the fear and anxiety of being open with sexuality, and encouraged people to be confident, brave and proud of who they are. Peep represented a changing climate in hip-hop with the likes of artists like Kevin Abstract and ILoveMakonnen, who all are known for commonly speaking out against homophobia and hyper-masculinity.
With a bloated portfolio of accomplishments in a short period, it’s no surprise that Lil Peep had so much more planned. Releasing his first album Come Over When You’re Sober Pt.1 this year, as well as modelling for brands like Vlone, it seems that Peep made his transition to pop sensation in 2017, with the ambition to ascend into super stardom. Collaborations with EDM super producers like Marshmello and Diplo were rumored, as well as the goals to move deeper into fashion and acting. In an interview with Paper Magazine, Peep stated that “I feel like I’m a creative and I want to take advantage of that.” His advocacy of creativity in life is another reason why Peep was so iconic in his short time, and influenced so many. While he never lived on to achieve his goals, they will live through the generation of new artists and musicians he inspired.
Lil Peep wasn’t just a rare commodity in modern music, he was a revolutionary. Everything he did advocated self-expression and encouraged comfortability in your own skin. His death is more than a ‘wake up call’ for drug glorification, it’s a reminder to be there for your friends, be a shoulder to lean on, like Peep’s music was to a generation of adolescents. His influence is one that resonates strongly as more artists continue to talk out against homophobia, racism, and lean towards a more self-reflective tone in hip-hop. Peep laid the groundwork for the convergence of genres like rock, emo, and hip-hop we see artists like Post Malone and Lil Uzi Vert emphasise on. While Lil Peep is no longer with us in the flesh, his impact, sound and legacy will live on through music.