Review Summary: Awful things
Yesterday I wrote a review for this album and posted it here. I was essentially half drunk at the time and sorta spilled out a wall of trash and decided it was good enough to post. After some constructive criticism, I’ve rewrriten this to suit my standards. Thanks for reading
Soundcloud rap has always been a bit of a dodgy genre. It’s very love or hate. You adore the simplicity and the don’t give a damn nature or you hate it for the exact same reasons. Artists like Lil’ Pump and 6ix9ine thrive on essentially making meme rap and they bank hard off it. Yet, from the depths of soundcloud, there’s another genre that has a very sizeable fanbase. Emo rap is exactly what you think it is. Honest, emotional and dark songwriting which masnifests itself with hip hop beats. Rappers like XXXtentacion and Juice WRLD have achieved chart placements with their emotionally engaging and humanistic writing, and Lil’ Peep was one of the main players in this genre. Like X, he experienced a massive boom In popularity after his untimely and tragic death and his popularity continues to grow constantly with the seemingly endless stream of new material his record label is slowly releasing over time. While his popularity kicked off with his Hellboy mixtape, his first proper LP (sort of) ‘Come Over When You’re Sober’ is usually pointed to as his main work.
COWYS is an interesting beast. At barely 21 minutes, it hardly counts as a proper record (it’s more of a glorified EP) and the seven tracks here are certainly intriguing. Like a lot of Emo rap, Peep bares his soul here but the results are sadly quite embarrassing. A lot of Emo is usually quite ugly and intentionally uncomfortable. Groups like Weezer thrive on intentionally awkward and overtly personal lyrics and in a sort of way, COWYS actually fits that mould. It’s just the overall sloppiness and grossness of a majority of the lyrics and beats that drag this record down massively.
Peep has two modes: open and honest or ridiculously cheesy. A large majority of the tracks (well basically all 7 of them) focus on Peep’s emotional state and relationships. When he’s not singing about girls, it’s all about the xans. “sometimes life gets fucked up, that’s why we get fucked up” he mumble/whimpers on ‘U Said’. The rest of album is littered with similar gems of lines like this. The issue is that Peep fails to grasp subtlety. A massive majority of his lyrics are about as blunt as a nuke and as such, they lose a certain emotional depth to them and devolve into overwrought melodrama. The rest of the songs focus on his destructive drug usage and failing relationships. While Peep is earnestly open about these, the lyrics sadly portray a creepy/kinda gross feeling, as if he’s placing the blame on his companions. While he admits his drug use is to blame, the lyrics come off more as blaming others than admitting mistakes. A key point of Emo is coming to terms with personal Issues but this album feels more like it’s pointing fingers than actually trying to better oneself. The rest of the record never picks up during its almost laughable sort runtime (just over 20 minutes) and for a record so short, it actually starts to drag.
Musically, the record also completely falls apart. I will give the producers credit for attempting to give each track a subtly dark and moody feel but this basically boils down to adding a gothic eerie guitar riff and cranking up the reverb to absurd levels, making the entire LP sound like it was recorded in a canyon. The amount of echo is completely ridiculous and when it hits track 3, things start to get very stale, very fast. Even then, the guitar samples are quickly swallowed by an ocean of blaring trap drums and synths which sort of defeats the purpose of having them there in the first place. Peep never hits a single note over the course of the record, no matter what vocal style he is attempting. His voice is all over the place here and he never once manages to make it work. If he’s not slurring and mumbling his words, he’s weakly rapping or trying out his very poor post hardcore voice. The problem is that Peep is hardly a good rapper and an even worse singer. Each line sounds like a first take and even when he starts to yell like on ‘Awful Things’, it sounds more like he simply sang the line and they boosted the gain to receive the effect. Rap rock Itself is very hit or miss and I applaud Peep for trying to bring it back into the mainstream, but the results here are beyond saving.
COWYS is somehow underproduced and overproduced. Tracks sound sloppy and scattershot, but are also drenched in completely over the top dramatic production. Peep never delivers a solid convincining performance throughout the LP and the whole record essentially devolves into an all night pity party by the second track. It’s an ugly, gross record, and not in the way that most Emo is meant to be, intentionally dissonant and emotional heavy. I mean, it’s more actually disgusting and sickly. There is virtually nothing going for this album, in vocal performances, beats or lyrics. Both half assed and overblown, Peep sums it up best on the second track ‘Save That Shit’
“Don’t tell me you can’t save that shit”
Save it, Peep. Save it for yourself so none of us have to ever hear it again