Album review: Lil Peep’s “Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2” paints a portrait of a tortured artist struggling to recognize his own potential
The rise of SoundCloud in the early 2010s created a cultural phenomenon that has radically altered popular conceptions of stardom, independent music and the DIY ethos, especially within the hip-hop genre. Aspiring musicians, regardless of location or level of talent, have a free platform to expose millions to their art and can exist completely outside of the industry, allowing them an unprecedented amount of freedom and power.
For Gustav Ahr, better known by his rap moniker Lil Peep, this ability to create on his own terms led him to become one of the most influential artists emerging out of this decade. Releasing three mixtapes in two years, culminating in “Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 1” from 2017, Peep cemented himself as an innovator and primary force in creating a new genre of hip-hop that mixes rap beats with emo rock samples and lyricism.
In a tragic overdose of fentanyl and Xanax, Lil Peep was taken from the world too soon at age 21 on Nov. 15, 2017, undeniably leaving his mark on the music industry and causing many to wonder what else he could have delivered had he lived longer. His creativity, ear for samples, lyrical honesty and knack for melody made him an icon and a voice of a generation of outsiders.
Realizing the importance of Lil Peep to his fanbase, Peep’s mother and creative partners released the posthumous “Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2,” deciding that his message needed to be heard. The hope was for this project to serve as a breathing testament to his art and show the intense passion and care he put into his craft up until the end.
The opening track, “Broken Smile (My All),” illustrates why those important to Lil Peep made the decision to bring these songs to the public. This ominous track, driven by steel drums and a piano/synth build over a finger-picked reverb guitar and trap beat, delivers a powerful rumination of love, loss and heartbreak.
A large part of Peep’s appeal to youth especially was his frankness in talking about personal struggles with mental health and substance abuse, difficult topics that unfortunately were at the forefront of his life. His pain and message of resilient solidarity inspired, comforted and saved his listeners.
Lyrics like, “Why the f— do everybody act like they care? / I was dying and nobody was there,” from the song “Runaway,” are particularly gut-wrenching considering Peep’s background and how closely death loomed while he recorded these songs. “Runaway” is a good summation of Peep’s attitudes near the end, as he admits to using drug abuse as a dangerous escape, seeking some sort of satisfaction in a girl that he knew would never exist outside of his dreams and viewing people from a particularly “Holden Caulfield-esque” lens of phoniness.
The vicious cycle of feeling alone and turning to drug abuse only to experience further alienation is a repeated thematic motif throughout “Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2.” This awareness of his self-destruction on songs like “Leanin’,”“IDGAF” and “16 Lines” make the album a particularly harrowing yet cathartic listen. His distorted vocals paired with the somber instrumentals embody the sound of depression but also the beauty of Peep’s creative mind, showcasing his immense potential.
The song “Fingers” is evidence that Lil Peep both recognized the dangerously thin line he was walking with his reckless lifestyle and was accepting of his own inevitable mortality. He sings, “I’m not gonna last here / I’m not gonna last long” in the track’s outro.
Nothing changes how sad it is that Peep predicted his own premature demise, but he still lives on through his art that continues to give a voice to those who need it most. His influence has overtaken the mainstream and spawned countless copycats, establishing him among the ranks of talents lost too soon.
R.I.P. Lil Peep.