• Yahli Livni

Remembering Lil Peep: 5 Songs that Set the Score for the Years to Come

November 15th marks three years since we lost Lil Peep.

During his short lived fame, the lovable, genre-bending rockstar truly felt like everybody’s everything. His brutally honest social media presence allowed us to be committed to Peep as an entertainer and personality, and we were constantly rewarded by feeling as if we were a part of his life. It was shocking and horrifying to watch his death as we watched his life. His passing leaves a missing puzzle piece in the beautiful picture that is music today.

I want to appreciate some of his songs that have set the tone for what music sounds like today. These songs are each important for their own reasons, but together they are important because they not only tell the story of art that twisted genres, but also of art that shone despite setbacks. Labels doubted the DIY feel, critics doubted Peep’s character, and even us fans doubted his eventual success.

So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

1: “Awful Things” (2017)

Before there was “Lucid Dreams” there was “Awful Things.”

The first song to put Lil Peep in the eyes of the mainstream, “Awful Things” shocked the world by slapping pop punk vocals on a well produced trap beat. While we’ve heard metal/hip-hop fusions in the past, they were quickly laughed at and dismissed for novelty. This song is no novelty. As of this article, the song has over 220 million views on Youtube and over 200 million plays on Spotify.

Lil Tracy (featured on this song) was Peep’s best friend during the recording of this song. While this was not Peep’s only breakthrough single, it arguably is Lil Tracy’s. Since Peep’s death, Tracy has cemented himself as a leader in this now established underground emo-rap genre. If you want more of this, I recommend you check out “Beautiful Nightmare” from Tracy’s 2019 album Anarchy.

2: “big city blues” (2016)

And she sweet like Texas tea… with an ass from Tennessee.” The way the beat drops out for this punchline makes me laugh every time.

With a surprising country twang, over familiar drums (produced by Charlie Shuffler), Peep and frequent collaborator Cold Hart reminisce about their complicated love affairs. Considering songs like “Old Town Road” and “Like a Farmer" came out in 2018, its important to recognize “big city blues” as a blueprint for some of the many country inspired rap songs to explode in the years that followed.

3: “walk away as the door slams - acoustic” (2019)

In every interview, Lil Peep was pestered with the question “what genre are you?” To which he would always respond with something along the lines of “who cares.” In his interview with Montreality, Peep seems amused by the genres on his wikipedia page (RnB, pop-punk, rap, etc.).

“walk away as the door slams - acoustic” is the perfect way to finish Peep’s posthumous album EVERYBODY’S EVERYTHING. By stripping the song back and leaving just the guitar and vocals, Peep’s spirit continues to laugh at those that try to define him. A raw guitar ballad at the end of a “rap” album is the perfect way to forever tease those who try to compartmentalize Peep.

4: “ZZZ” (2017)

This dreamy lofi tune sees Peep collaborating with his UK counterpart Milkavelli. After that last song, it may seem contradictory to say that anything is outside Peep’s comfort zone, but “ZZZ” is as far as it gets.

I find it important to appreciate when an artist confidently tries new things, and even more important to celebrate when it lands. On “ZZZ” Peep effortlessly adds his usual melodies and lyrics onto a completely new canvas. The song’s calming vibe only highlights Peep’s dark reality.

“Nightmares to you is my life to me.”

5: “Gym Class” (2016)

Bringing it back full circle, “Gym Class” is Lil Peep’s first song to get recognized by the underground. The song’s cloud rap feel was multiplied by the music video’s DIY aesthetic. It was the perfect blend to get the newcomer some clout in the scene. Clearly inspired by other Soundcloud-era artists such as Yung Lean and Xavier Wulf (who Peep would go on to collaborate with on Peep’s track “drive by”), Peep serenaded new fans with nostalgic lyrics and a hypnotizing, monotone melody. While his sound would become much harsher over the years to come, the feeling it inspired would infect listeners with a yearn for more.

And despite Peep’s story taking a sudden and sad turn, I hope that 3 years later, during some of the craziest times of our lives, we can still appreciate how Peep’s music would set the tone for rap and pop music.

Here’s a playlist of these songs and some songs that could not have happened without Lil Peep:

Photo Courtesy First Access Entertainment Limited, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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