It’s been over a year since Lil Peep‘s tragic death, and every passing month has been filled with more speculation about what the scope of his legacy could have been. Passing away just two weeks after his 21st birthday, Peep, who was born Gustav Elijah Åhr, was poised to transcend rap into popular culture at large. In less than two years he went from living off canned beans to collaborating with some of the biggest names in rap, posing for and being interviewed in GQ, and modeling for Balmain on the runway in Paris just a few months before his death. He was an openly bisexual iconoclast fusing rap, hip-hop, and emo-rock in totally new ways that were not considered cool until he did it and established himself as an undeniable force of innovation. Today, the internet has been blessed with the second part of his record, Come Over When You’re Sober. Originally slated for release last year, the release was delayed after Peep passed and his music was controversially acquired by Columbia Records in the spring.
During the listening party of the Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 on October 18th, Lil Peep’s mother Liza Womack made a statement assuring those in attendance that this project was handled with total creative integrity: “What do you do when a young artist dies long before his time, leaving behind a legacy of finished and unfinished work and a legion of heartbroken fans? Well, I feel very proud of what Columbia Records has done with Gus’ album,” she explained. “This is an important album because it’s the work of a creative, young, trailblazing artist. This album is important also because Gus is dead. It’s important because Gus is dead, but this is the album he would’ve made if he were living.” You only have to watch a few minutes of Liza speaking to get clued into what a special lady she is; it’s immediately obvious how much she loved and championed her son while never judging him. She seems like she’s in the best position, besides his producers Smokeasac and George Astasio, to know what he would have wanted this album to be.
This release naturally has his fans’ emotions all over the place, but there’s a lot of reassurance behind knowing the producers who helped make Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 1 and were the closest to Peep are helping Liza honor her son’s vision. On this album, Peep’s voice, with his drawl that always walked a fine line between rapping and singing, is front and center. While some of his fellow LA-based emo rap collective comrades of Goth Boi Clique have been outspokenly criticizing the posthumous album, all speculative negativity aside, as a fan this feels like a very special record which serves an essential purpose in helping tell the story of Peep’s short-lived legacy. “This album is the most important project I’ll ever work on in my lifetime. I’m sure of that,” Smoke told XXL Mag. And on that note, let’s dive in:
The opener “Broken Smile (My All)” brings us up gently into a distant, celestial soundscape before Peep’s voice comes. And on this track, it’s his singing voice we hear first; he deviates from his usual atonal style, and hearing Peep sing so well is chill-inducing. It really is the kind of song that shows the world that Peep was destined to do so much more than he had time to accomplish. The guitar solo at the end, powerful and in your face before retreating into a gentle refrain, is so beautiful and iconically emo, it made me cry and then hit repeat. The dreamy atmosphere on the next track “Runaway” sucks you right in, but it’s antithetical to the angsty vibe of his vocals in the best way. The lead single “Cry Alone” is up next, and from the opening guitar lick, it feels like we walked through a time warp into a Brand New or Taking Back Sunday production.
Other album favorites include “Life is Beautiful,” which seems to harken back to Peep’s early work, which was very focused around the lyrical content meant to make you think. His music has a way of feeling sad yet refreshing in a weird way. This particular one is the kind of track that makes me want to call up my friends to ask if they’re okay — nothing about this album shies away from Peep’s struggle to engage with humanity and he’s revealed to be a deeply sensitive young man: “Finding out eventually the feeling wasn’t mutual / You were not invited ’cause you’re nothing like the usual / Isn’t life beautiful? I think that life is beautiful.” The bassline on “Hate Me” is so fat and pronounced, it’s like his rhymes have to defy gravity to bounce over it. It’s a defining characteristic that makes this the most unusual track on the album. The final song, “Fingers,” feels like a warning: “I’m not going to last here / I’m not going to last long,” he tells us. There’s a weight to the electrifying, slow-moving, and hyper-instrumental production that makes this song feel larger than life — it feels like such a perfectly honest reflection of him.
It’s at the end of this album that it finally hits that this might be the last piece of music we are going to get from Lil Peep. He truly came alive through this album, which vastly surpassed our expectations, and again we have to hand it to Peep’s mother for her insistence that this is the album Peep would have made if he were still here to finish it. Hopefully, this album shows people what Peep was capable of as well as shine a light on the importance of mental health as well as create empathy for addicts trying to escape their mental hell. Shoutout to Smokeasac and George Astasio for the phenomenal production and dedication to honoring Peep’s intentions through this record. Adam 22 of the No Jumper podcast explained it best: “He was on track to be probably one of the biggest artists ever to come out of this sort of level of hip-hop. There were so many things of happening to him in his life,” he gushed. He went on to say, “Lil Peep was going to go way beyond being a rapper or just being a force in music. And I thought that if he stayed around, I don’t know – there was a level of fascination with him and the way that people regarded him, and it was like nothing I’d really seen. And I don’t think he came even close to actually capturing his full potential and I don’t know necessarily why that was. He made some amazing music, but I don’t feel like he put out the project that would’ve defined him.”
While Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 by virtue of its nature can’t define Peep in and of itself, it’s a massive piece of the puzzle and we hope more pieces will surface as time goes on. We miss you Peep, thanks for everything.