Lil Peep in 2016
Gustav Elijah Åhr
November 1, 1996
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 15, 2017 (aged 21)|
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Cause of death||Accidental fentanyl–alprazolam (Xanax) overdose|
|Origin||Long Beach, New York, U.S.|
Gustav Elijah Åhr (November 1, 1996 – November 15, 2017), known professionally as Lil Peep (often stylized as LiL PEEP), was an American rapper, singer, songwriter and model. Helping pioneer an emo revival style of rap and rock music, Lil Peep has been credited as the leading figure in emo music of the 2010s.
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised on Long Island, New York, Lil Peep started releasing music on SoundCloud in 2014, using the pseudonym Lil Peep because his mother had called him "Peep" since he was a child. He soon became popular on SoundCloud after releasing several mixtapes, including Hellboy (2016), and for his collaborations with Lil Tracy, gaining him a cult following. His debut album Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1 (2017) peaked at number 38 on the Billboard 200. Lil Peep earned his highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2018 with "Falling Down", featuring XXXTentacion, which peaked at number 13. His second studio album, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 (2018), debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, making it his first US top 10 album. The compilation album Everybody's Everything was released on the 2nd anniversary of his death.
Lil Peep was a frequent user of drugs due to his mental health, including depression and bipolar disorder. He died on November 15, 2017, two weeks after his 21st birthday. The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner certified the cause of death as an accidental overdose of fentanyl and Xanax.
Gustav Elijah Åhr was born on November 1, 1996, in Allentown, Pennsylvania to first-grade teacher Liza Womack and college professor Karl Johan Åhr. He had one sibling, Karl "Oskar" Åhr. Åhr grew up on Long Island, New York. His parents were both Harvard graduates who divorced when he was a teenager. Åhr was of Irish descent on his mother's side and Swedish and German descent on his father's side. Åhr claimed to have Swedish citizenship on Twitter.
Growing up, Åhr's father was absent, with his father and mother divorcing formally when Åhr was 14. He attended Lindell Elementary School and Long Beach High School in Lido Beach, New York, where he was often absent but received good grades and made the dean's list. He later dropped out of high school and took online courses to earn his diploma. Shortly thereafter, he began posting his music on YouTube and SoundCloud.
At 17, Åhr got his first face tattoo, a broken heart below his left eye to help motivate him to make music. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music under the pseudonym Lil Peep. He said he moved to Los Angeles because living on Long Island depressed him.
When Lil Peep was a teenager, he called himself a loner who made most of his friends online. Inspired by underground acts like Seshollowaterboyz and iLoveMakonnen, Peep made music while residing in Long Island under the pseudonym "Trap Goose" and lived temporarily with childhood friend Brennan Savage until both decided to move to Los Angeles.
Lil Peep left high school early to move to Los Angeles and meet up with online friends. He initially lived in Skid Row, Los Angeles, and dipped in and out of homelessness, staying at Savage's apartment while Savage pursued a degree. The two eventually went separate ways and Peep met Atlanta rapper and producer JGRXXN and Florida rappers Ghostemane and Craig Xen, living with them while forming the collective Schemaposse. He originally met Craig Xen online and was introduced to JGRXXN who needed a singer. Lil Peep also attempted to attend Glendale Community College during his first year living in Los Angeles. In 2015, Lil Peep released his first mixtape, Lil Peep; Part One, which generated 4,000 plays in its first week. Shortly thereafter, he released his first extended play, Feelz, and another mixtape, Live Forever.
Lil Peep began to grow in popularity soon after, with the song "Star Shopping" (later released as a single following his death) from Lil Peep; Part One making waves in underground hip-hop circles. Lil Peep's popularity continued to grow after the release of the song "Beamer Boy", which led to him performing live for the first time with the rest of Schemaposse in March 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. The following month, Schemaposse broke up and Lil Peep was no longer associated with a collective, though they remained on good terms. Shortly after Schemaposse's breakup, Peep began to associate with Los Angeles-based rap collective Gothboiclique, featuring members of the group on his full-length mixtape Crybaby. The group shared a squat in Skid Row with Peep and often shared beds. Crybaby was recorded in three days with a $150 microphone. He did a majority of the mixing and mastering himself. Crybaby was released in June 2016. Later than month, First Access Entertainment (FAE) partnered with Lil Peep on a joint venture to invest in and advise him on his career.
In addition to providing business guidance, co-founder/CEO Sarah Stennett was a friend who gave both moral and financial support, helping Peep realize his vision. In September 2016, Lil Peep released Hellboy. Songs from Hellboy such as "Girls" and "OMFG" received millions of views and plays on SoundCloud and YouTube. Hellboy's success led to Peep's first solo tour across the United States, the "Peep Show" tour, in April and May 2017. In May 2017, the band Mineral accused Peep of copyright infringement for including an unlicensed and uncredited sample of their song "LoveLetterTypewriter" on his track "Hollywood Dreaming". Peep said that he was only trying to "show some love" with the sample.
Soon after the tour was done, Peep emigrated to London, England, during a disentanglement with Gothboiclique. There he began to associate with figures such as Atlanta rapper iLoveMakonnen and longtime friend Bexey (fka Bexey Swan), and recorded Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1 and Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2, the EP Goth Angel Sinner and an untitled project with iLoveMakonnen. Peep released his debut studio album, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1, on August 15, 2017. He also took his first world tour, starting in the UK in September and moving to Germany before finishing in the United States in November, which was cut short by his death.
After his death, Lil Peep's fanbase and popularity grew quickly, resulting in a significant increase in sales and streams of his music. The single "Awful Things" from Come Over When You're Sober, Part One charted, becoming his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 79.
Due to Peep's prolific work rate, a number of songs and projects were completed prior to his death. The first official posthumous release arrived within 24 hours of his death, as Wiggy, a director of many of Peep's music videos, released the official video for the then-unreleased song "16 Lines". On January 12, 2018, Marshmello officially released a collaboration titled "Spotlight". The video for "Spotlight" was released on February 12, 2018. On January 15, 2018, rapper Juicy J released the song "Got 'Em Like", which featured Lil Peep and Wiz Khalifa. On January 27, 2018, SoundCloud rapper Teddy released a song collaboration with Lil Peep, "Dreams & Nightmares".
In March 2018, Peep's music archive was acquired by Columbia Records. On May 13, 2018, a posthumous single, "4 Gold Chains", featuring Clams Casino, was released as well as a music video. A collaboration album between Peep and rapper iLoveMakonnen is expected to be released on Makonnen's label Warner Bros. On August 17, 2018, Makonnen announced a new Lil Peep single, "Falling Down", a reworking of "Sunlight on Your Skin" that he recorded with Peep in the fall of 2017 in London. The new version features recently deceased rapper XXXTentacion, who recorded his verses following Peep's death. The creation of the single was condemned by surviving members of GothBoiClique, who said there had been unresolved conflict between the two artists stemming from latter's history of violence towards women. "Falling Down" was released on September 19, 2018, and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The original "Sunlight on Your Skin" was released on September 27, 2018.
On October 14, 2018, Lil Peep's estate revealed that his first posthumous project, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2, was finished in September 2018 and Lil Peep's executive producer for the project, Smokeasac, confirmed that it was just awaiting approval from Peep's family. On October 17, 2018, Lil Peep's estate confirmed that the lead single from Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2, "Cry Alone", would be released on October 18, 2018. Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 was released on November 9, 2018. On November 1, 2018, the second single from the album, "Runaway", was officially released. On November 7, 2018, the third single, "Life is Beautiful"—a remix of the track "Life" from the Feelz EP—was released.
Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with 81,000 album-equivalent units (including 43,000 pure album sales), making it Lil Peep's first US top 10 album.
On January 31, 2019, the first single from the upcoming collaboration album with ILoveMakonnen, "I've Been Waiting", featuring Fall Out Boy, was released. The song was originally a demo by ILoveMakonnen; Peep then performed on it, spawning a partnership that created up to 20 songs. Fall Out Boy was added to the song after Peep's death.
On March 10, 2019, the documentary Everybody's Everything, which chronicles Lil Peep's life, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. On November 1, 2019, the estate announced the release of the soundtrack to the documentary, which features both released and unreleased tracks.
In April 2019, "Gym Class" and "Star Shopping", two Lil Peep singles that were originally released in March 2016 and August 2015 respectively were rereleased onto all streaming platforms by the Lil Peep estate.
Lil Peep had been into fashion since his teenage years and during the last months of his life he modelled for Vlone, and was invited to and attended several fashion shows such as Balmain men's show at Paris Fashion Week and Moncler Gamme Bleu MFW Mens Spring Summer show in Milan. Nico Amarca of Hypebeast said “even though Peep's brand of trendy sits on a far more niche spectrum than most modern-day tastemakers, something that largely attributed to his success. In a time where genuine individuality is becoming increasingly obsolete, Peep was the tattoo-covered, Manic Panic-hued mall rat the creative world needed to disrupt its ever-growing homogeny." Rapper Playboi Carti described Lil Peep as a "trendsetter".
In late 2018, it was announced that a Lil Peep clothing line was being created called "No Smoking" (stylized as "NO SMOK!NG") which was developed before Lil Peep's death.
Lil Peep was described as making lo-fi rap, being an "emo-trap heart throb" and an "emo rapper". New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica defined Peep as the Kurt Cobain of lo-fi rap and described his music as gloomy and diabolically melodic. Lil Peep's music generally drew on both Southern rap and the angsty introspection of the rock subgenre post-hardcore. He said that he wanted to become the "New Kurt Cobain". Lil Peep's lyrical themes include topics such as depression, drug use, past relationships, and suicidal thoughts and meshes together third-wave emo, alternative rock, pop-punk and dream pop with trap music and hip-hop. A close friend and the executive producer of Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1 said that Peep "wanted give a voice to people that suffer from anxiety and depression, people who have been abused, bullied, and the people who were misunderstood like him. He had demons of his own and he faced those demons by creating music." AllMusic described his music as a blend of hip hop and rock influences along with trap, punk, and dream pop. He had also been described as the future of emo by Steven J. Horowitz of online magazine Pitchfork.
Before the release of his first album, he mentioned Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Frank Ocean and Riff Raff as inspirations, and wanted to be known as the "Kurt Cobain of Rap". Lil Peep also cited Anthony Kiedis as his idol. His other musical influences include Gucci Mane, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Future, Crystal Castles, Seshollowaterboyz, Rozz Dyliams, My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco. His songs have sampled such artists as Blink-182, Pierce the Veil, Brand New, Radiohead, Underoath, Three Days Grace, Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, The Postal Service, Oasis and The Microphones.
On November 15, 2017, Lil Peep was found dead on his tour bus when his manager went to check on him in preparation for that night's performance at a Tucson, Arizona venue. Foul play was not suspected, with his death believed to be from an overdose. In a series of Instagram posts in the hours leading up to his death, Lil Peep claimed to have ingested psilocybin mushrooms and cannabis concentrate. In another, he claimed to have consumed six Xanax pills following a video depicting his attempts to drop an unidentified pill into his mouth several times before successfully swallowing one and shaking a full prescription bottle. A subsequent post was captioned "When I die, you'll love me." In the days after his death, a police report revealed that Lil Peep had taken a nap around 5:45 p.m. before the concert. His manager checked on him twice and found him sleeping and breathing fine, but was unable to wake him. When the manager checked on Lil Peep a third time, he was unresponsive and not breathing. Lil Peep's manager performed CPR before medics arrived, though he was pronounced dead at the scene. Lil Peep's death was recorded on Instagram by his friend Bexey Swan, who believed Lil Peep was asleep. On December 8, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner released details from a toxicology report, certifying the cause of death was an accidental overdose due to the effects of the pain medication fentanyl and the benzodiazepine alprazolam. Blood tests were positive for cannabis, cocaine and the painkiller Tramadol. Urine tests also showed the presence of multiple powerful opiates, including hydrocodone, hydromorphone (dilaudid), oxycodone and oxymorphone. There was no alcohol in his system.
Numerous artists in the music industry paid tribute to Lil Peep following his death, including Diplo, Post Malone, Pete Wentz, Marshmello, Mark Ronson, Zane Lowe, Sam Smith, Bella Thorne, Trippie Redd, A$AP Nast, Rich Brian, Playboi Carti, Ugly God, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Xan, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Pump, Dua Lipa, and El-P. Jon Caramanica, a music critic for the New York Times, held a special remembrance podcast episode to honor Peep following his death which was released on November 22, 2017. Good Charlotte also honored Lil Peep, releasing a cover of "Awful Things", which was shown at his memorial in Long Beach, New York on December 2, 2017. Three Days Grace paid tribute by posting a video on Instagram and Twitter of a remix of Peep's song "Witchblades" featuring Lil Tracy. The remixed song's beat was a slowed down instrumental track of the band's song, "The Real You". Lil Peep would be mentioned by Juicy J (who had collaborated with him before his death) on Rae Sremmurd's Powerglide. Lil Peep was also honored during the 60th Grammy Awards. On June 19, 2018, rapper Juice WRLD released a two-song EP titled Too Soon.. dedicated to him and XXXTentacion, the latter being involved in a homicide relating to robbery. In The 1975 track, "Love It If We Made It", there is a lyric that gives a tribute to Lil Peep: "Rest in peace Lil Peep, The poetry is in the streets".
Lil Peep was cremated at Huntington Station, New York and his ashes were placed in his grandfather's garden. On December 2, 2017, friends, family and fans to pay their respects to Lil Peep at his memorial in Long Beach, New York. A memorial was also held in London on the same day as a large picture of Lil Peep was projected onto the side of the Houses of Parliament in central London.
Legacy and influence
Lil Peep was described as "the future of emo" by Pitchfork, was known for being part of a "post-emo revival style of hip hop and rock", and had been described as "arguably the biggest emo icon of the past few years" Regarding his death, in January 2018 John Jeremiah Sullivan of GQ wrote, "When Lil Peep died late last year, he left behind an outsized legacy." To Genius journalist, Chris Mench, his death marked 'just the latest in a long line of high-profile musicians who died young'. Rolling Stone journalist Elias Leight concurred similarly and wrote that Lil Peep's "rise to stardom was powered by relentless drive."
Known for his more emo and punk rock approach to his craft, adding problems that he dealt with such as depressing themes reflecting on nihilism, heartbreak, and drug usage into his work, Lil Peep's reputation was to be considered different. He incorporated a "resurgence of rap rock" with his adaption of using hard guitar rifts into his music and being a part of the emergence of emo rap. He is commonly cited as an inspiration for upcoming "emo rappers" even as his music was considered by many as 'underground'.
Lil Peep came out as bisexual on a Twitter post in August 2017; around this time he was dating the actress and singer Bella Thorne. While on the Come Over When You're Sober tour, he had met and started dating Instagram influencer, Arzaylea Rodriguez around the time of his death in November.
Lil Peep had a close relationship with his mother, going so far as to tattoo her initials and birthday on his arm as his first tattoo at the age of fourteen. He played the trombone and tuba and expressed an interest in music and fashion from a young age. At the time of his death, Lil Peep was residing in Portobello Road, London with his friend and close collaborator, Bexey and Smokeasac. The move was provoked by Peep's need to escape his circumstances and his then-collective GOTHBOICLIQUE.
Lil Peep actively talked about his issues with depression, anxiety and substance abuse and stated that he had bipolar disorder, saying in an interview with Pitchfork "I suffer from depression and some days I wake up and I'm like, 'Fuck, I wish I didn't wake up'" and saying to Vice "I have horrible anxiety, that's why I took Xanax before this interview." In his final interview before his death with Zane Lowe, Peep confessed that his depression was getting worse saying "Things just get worse. Things already get worse and worse and worse every day." Lil Peep regularly referenced addictions to cocaine, ecstasy and Xanax in his lyrics and posts on social media, where he described himself as a "productive junkie" and advised his audience to avoid drug use.
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The way Lil Peep sampled and sang and drew from alternative rock music initially stirred ire from hip-hop and indie fans.
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