The Rickety Old Shack

Lil Peep — Come Over When You're Sober, Part 1

Lil Peep - Come Over When You're Sober Part 1, cover

This album is not something I expected to come across, as my forrays into the rap genre are fairly limited. This is the result of time constraints, and a metal being my first love. If we're being candid, the majority of new rap tends to elude me unless it becomes so popular as to become unavoidable in the public discourse. Such is the case with the debut full-length from Lil Peep, although the reason I learned of this album is due to the performer's death in mid-November, last year, rather than any specific accolades his work had received.

While the cause of death was listed as an accidental overdose of fentanyl, the contents of this album make it clear that the story of Lil Peep would probably end in this fashion, given a long enough timeline. Described as a "cloud rapper" and, more recently, an "emo rapper," Lil Peep's style takes minimalistic trap beats and layers them with short guitar phrases and vocals drenched in reverb and auto-tune. Somehow, the hooks manage to work, to some extent, although the material is very primtive — with lyrics as deep as a plate of soup, to match. I mean, "life's all fucked up so let's get fucked up," come on; that's barely even trying! Peep has essentially two vocal modes: a gruff, psuedo-angry timbre to his singing-adjacent warbles, and a sedated drawl in which he barely raps while trying not to nod off mid-sentence. Somehow, this aesthetic works, even if I can't tell you why the whole is greater than the sum of its musically dubious parts.

In fact, that is likely the source of the disconnect between Lil Peep's fanbase and myself. I'm a 34 year-old man; this is angsty music produced by someone who was born when I was 13 and listening to Nirvana albums. When I roll my eyes at the juvenile prose of tracks like "Save That Shit," or "Better Off (Dying)," it's because I'm filtering it through a much longer lifetime of experience. The contents of this album are the efforts of a very young person, operating in a very limited narrative space. Each track is built around a basic vocal hook, repeated over generic trap beats; the lyrics are so unsubtle as to almost be trite. Expressions of depression are actually masked by how inarticulate and basic the lyrics are, which makes for some decent bangers but also diminishes the emotional weight significantly.

Still, try as I might to extend some empathy to the creator, I think the hype and critical acclaim heaped upon Lil Peep was overstated. This record is such a product of drug culture, it's impressive that I didn't get a contact high just from listening. The effect-drenched vocals sound so strung-out and addled, I almost expected lean to start leaking out of my speakers. I would not say Come Over When You're Sober glorifies drug use, so much as it crutches it on heavily for aesthetic reasons — it's not really trying to convince you to do drugs, it's trying to be 'dark' and 'edgy' in its constant reference to them. Indirectly, Lil Peep presents himself as a cautionary tale: in death, moreso than he probably intended. This record is the story of a man who had a lot of problems, but had not developed a big enough vocabulary to properly elucidate — nevermind begin addressing — them. Even on the boastful "Benz Truck," there is a palpable melancholy to the song, even in the midst of bragging about material success.

Prior to his death, Lil Peep said he would "love to be the new Kurt Cobain." It's safe to say that he fell very short of that mark; I don't think that was even a valid comparison, except at a surface level. Sure, both were very depressed young men — with well documented drug addictions — but that's where the comparison ends. Cobain, for all his angst and depression, crafted a lot of sonically varied material, and produced much subtler work — even if both were running from the same suffocating darkness. Cobain had a much longer, more successful career, whereas Lil Peep was just beginning his ascent to stardom. I don't think Peep was even old enough, or mature enough to truly understand what makes Kurt Cobain — and the music of Nirvana as a whole — such an enduring legacy. It's unfortunate that he cost himself the chance to find out.

Come Over When You're Sober is far from a great record. As a rap album, it is lacking; a simplistic, primal exercise in late-teenage angst and early-20s social anxiety. I don't even know why the emo classification ever came up; other than a fixation on brooding as a lifestyle, there's little overlap here. Everything on this album feels of-the-moment; while fans may be exclaiming that Lil Peep won't be forgotten, I don't think that's true. Come On Over When You're Sober is a snapshot of the era in which it was created — a year of anixety, lament and unease. The combination of a lack of depth and a short career will ultimately resign Lil Peep to fade into obscurity — as his fans grow older, and develop more nuanced lives and understandings of the world around them — much like members of my demographic look back with scorn on the nu metal we so passionately defended in our youth.

This record is fun, but it is by no means good in any conventional sense. It's a kind of hypnotically dumb album that, wisely, limits itself to 23-and-a-half minutes of total running time. The excess and and anxiety of 2017 represented in drug-fuelled lamentation and failed escapism, over a trap-influenced score. I appreciate Come Over When You're Sober for at least making me think, about music and life in general, even if there is an almost-zero percent chance I revisit this album. By no means essential, it was interesting.

Summary

An interesting look into the world of SoundCloud rap, as Lil Peep serves up 7 tracks of minimalistic trap music. Basic raps confine themselves to a very narrow lyrical niche: drugs, ruined relationships, drugs, relationships likely ruined buy drugs, and more drugs — just in case the fixation on drugs wasn't clear, let it be noted that he liked to get high a lot. In spite of everything about this project being as subtle as a heart attack, the material has a certain charisma to it that at least held my attention throughout the whole album. This very much feels like something I would have enjoyed a lot more about 10 years ago. Instead, I'm a dude in his 30s and, while I like to think I understand its appeal to a younger audience, I'd appreciate it if you kept it off my lawn.

Album Information

Release date: August 15th, 2017
Record label: First Access Entertainment

Lil Peep — vocals
Smokeasac — production
IIVI — production (tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7)

Track Listing

  1. Benz Truck
  2. Save That Shit
  3. Awful Things feat. Lil Tracy
  4. U Said
  5. Better Off (Dying)
  6. The Brightside
  7. Problems

—by Derek

Published: January 8th, 2017