The Life and Career of Lil Peep

//EMERY DAVIS//

On Nov. 15, 2017 rising hip hop artist Lil Peep was found dead in his tour bus just hours before a show in Ariz. Almost four weeks later, autopsy reports were finally released, revealing an accidental overdose as the cause of death. A combination of Fentanyl laced Xanax and a cocktail of other drugs were found in his system. His blood tested positive for marijuana and cocaine.

Lil Peep, whose birth name was Gustav Elijah Åhr, grew up in Long Island, N.Y. with his supportive mother, Liza Womack, and older brother Oksar Åhr. Known as Gus by friends and family, he was recognized for his ability to smoothly blend together genres of hip hop, emo rock, and punk music. When Gus reached high school he decided he did not want to fit in society’s box anymore. At the age of 14, he got his first tattoo sleeve, started getting facial piercings, and began making music in his bedroom. After graduating in 2014, he moved to California, hoping to build a music career. He started out by posting his tracks to Soundcloud and YouTube. Lil Peep quickly became a rising star in the underground rap community, but he could not escape the drugs. In the end, addiction killed him.

Gus’s story is similar to many other rappers. In multiple interviews and podcasts, he discussed the ongoing list of drugs he regularly used. His answers often referenced marijuana, lean, and Xanax. “It’s just the stuff people offer me. I just kind of go with it,” Peep said in an interview with No Jumper. Peep had become addicted. Some say he committed suicide and some say it was an accidental overdose. But many say, at the time of his premature death, he was close to making it big and changing the world of hip hop forever.

When the news broke, heartbroken Lil Peep fans all around the world found ways to pay tribute to the “Hellboy” they lost. Fans painted memorials, lit candles, wrote letters, sang along to his music together in groups, and thanked him for his work and the impact he made in their lives. Other rap artists and celebrities tweeted condolences for the rapper. Smokeasac, a close friend to Gus had “PEEP” tattooed above his eyebrow and rapper Post Malone even got Peep’s portrait tattooed on his arm. Peep’s friends, collaborators and mother put together an official memorial service in his hometown on Dec. 2, 2017.

His memorial service, called “The Fascinating and Colorful Life of Iconic Gus Åhr,” was broadcasted on YouTube. A recording of his funeral can be found online under the same name. Everything at his memorial was decorated with his signature colors, black and pink. The tablecloths, flower arrangements, attire and even some guests’ hair were dyed for the occasion. The memorial service included readings of personal messages fans mailed in. Many messages illustrated how Peep played a huge part in helping fans get by in life and persevere through their struggles. His lyrics were often about his heartbreak, life struggles, and mental health problems. Many people related to these topics and used his lyrics as a coping mechanism against their own issues.

When Lil Peep passed away, he left unfinished songs and recorded drafts behind for his fans. Peep’s computer held about a dozen unedited songs he wanted to show the world, but never had the chance to share.

Once his mother got a hold of the laptop from his recording label, she took it to an Apple store and told the employee she needed everything moved onto a new computer. “My son died. This is him,” said Womack in an interview with The New York Times. “Take this and put it on a new one.” After everything was transferred, Peep’s producer,  friend, and musical collaborator Dylan “Smokeasac” Mullen, got his hands on the laptop full of music and began working with producer George Astasio to create the album fans so desperately needed to hear.

On Nov. 8, 2018, a day before the new album release, Smokeasac tweeted about the new album. “Please try and understand that I did the best I could by Peep’s name,” he said. “We talked in depth about where the sound of part 2 had to go to be finished. I tried my best for him.” “Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2” was released on Nov. 9, 2018. After listening, many fans left comments to Lil Peep through Instagram thanking him again as if he was still there. To fans, the album was a little bit of closure for losing Peep a year ago.

Though we now have a little more music to cope and heal with, some fans can’t help but be even more sad about Lil Peep’s death now. Who knows if there will be anymore music to come? As far as we know, this is it, the end of Peep’s career for good. Though he’s gone, many of his friends, family, fans, and collaborators are working hard to keep his memory alive as long as possible. Rest easy Lil Peep, it’s been a year without you. 11/1/96-11/15/17

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