Review Summary: Lil Peep introduces an exciting blend of trap flavored hip-hop mixed with classic emo music, that will instantly polarize audiences. An interesting and important step forward for the development of contemporary hip-hop.
While reviewing an artist like Lil' Peep, the first issue people run into is assuming that Peep is claiming to be a lyricist, or that he is setting out to make a project comparable to the albums of his contemporaries. Lil Peep creates an exciting fusion of trap flavored hip-hop mixed with classic emo music, best illustrated by Peep naming two consecutive tracks after two of his biggest influences, in the form of songs "Cobain", followed by "Gucci Mane". But, the music, albeit an exciting new take on trap, is certainly not without it's flaws. Saturated with angsty, cringe-worthy lyrics, and perhaps a bit too much self-indulgence, this album may be a difficult listen for people not accustomed to the emo music Peep takes influence from. But, if you were ever a young fan of bands that routinely performed at Warped Tour, then this album may be right up your alley.
The album kicks off with the title track, which comes in with a vocal sample from the movie in which the title is taken from, then a nice guitar sample, followed by 808's and a deep bass. There is also an Underoath sample, which seems to be a recurring band for Peep (or better said, his producers) to sample in his music. In essence, this instrumental is representative of Peep's general sound. Moody, emotional, but all the while never losing the bass heavy feel of modern hip-hop songs. The lyrics are a confusing mixture of rap music braggadocio and adolescent-like self-deprecation. Throughout the whole album, the topics Peep covers mostly pertain to drugs, heartbreak, depression, death, and the occasional flex.
While the lyrics across the album do contain duds such as the track "OMFG", with the wailing of: "Baby girl, you got nothing on her/ you're the only one that could ever compare/ I can't hear what you're trying to say/ club lights shining on the side of your face/," there are also genuine cries for help, like on "This is the Song They Played When I Crashed Into the Wall", when Peep seems to half-heartedly cry out "I don't want to die right now, but I admit I do sometimes/ these drugs are calling me: / 'do one more line, don’t fall asleep./'" Perhaps these lyrics would all come off as angsty teenage journal entries, if it weren't for Lil Peep's untimely death only a little more than a year after the release of this project, in November of 2017. The news of Peep's death does admittedly make this album require a slightly more serious listen. Knowing that Peep died at the age of 22, hardly even an adult, the tone of this project becomes all the more serious and heartbreaking.
Besides the lyrics, the beats on this project are worthy of praise. Nearly every instrumental on the album takes a simple from a classic emo song, whether it be the Underoath sample on the title track, the Avenged Sevenfold sample on the closer, or the sample from "Lichen" by Aphex Twin (not an emo band, but nonetheless) on "We Think Too Much." Somber, at times even a little atmospheric and spacey, and still heavy hitting all at once, these instrumentals should attract a fanbase even without Peep's vocals layered on top of them.
My largest personal gripe would have to be that this project at times is a little tiring. With many songs consisting of the same verse repeated twice and choruses that overstay their welcome, many of these songs only have to be listened to halfway before you pretty much have heard the entire song. In a way, they follow the same formula that many Nirvana songs and other grunge bands of the '90s stuck so closely to. But it does not work as well when executed by Peep. A project that is in reality just under 50 minutes ends up feeling like a much longer experience, and with a lack of variation or experimentation beyond the new sound Peep has already introduced, the album does seem to drag on at certain points.
All in all, Lil Peep crafts an exciting fusion of trap and classic emo music. Remembering that this was still early in Lil Peep's career, it served as an excellent first step to whatever may have come next from a new artist pushing the boundaries of what was okay in contemporary hip-hop. If you're a fan of either of those genres individually, then I would say go ahead and give this album a listen. But if you're unable to approach it with an open mind, and have no patience for a young emotional kid singing lines about heartbreak and drug use, then I'd highly recommend skipping over this one.