Review Summary: The ultimate culmination of everything that encompassed Lil Peep, becoming the sole standard project for Emo-Rap that so many copycats have tried to replicate, but never reinvent.
It’s genuinely difficult to introduce Lil Peep as anything other than extremely polarizing, to say the very least. While his earlier mixtapes perfected the atmospheric emo lyrics with sludgy, teamSESH/Bones inspired vocal deliveries (particularly LiL PEEP: Part One
), and then the minimalistic sample-flipping beats paired with a new melodic vocal energy found on Crybaby
; nothing before could have ever predicted the splash that Lil Peep made when he was swimming through the muddy, lean-fueled epitome of everything that was Lil Peep, with the project Hellboy
In fact, the only real drawbacks from this record come from some of the features, mainly Horsehead’s shameless lack of charisma on “Girls” and the near swerve off of the road that is Xaviur Wulf’s boring and lyrically dense feature on “Drive-By”. But at the same time, I can’t even say that “Drive-By” is a bad track though, even with the awkward feature. The production from Nedarb (who is definitely Peep’s most consistent producer) is ethereally lifting, and Peep’s hooks ring like an anthemic joyride. Those previously mentioned negative aspects are overshadowed by Peep’s presence, or Lil Tracy’s vocals, and KirbLaGoop’s (whom i would die defending, by the way) overall polarizing delivery. Everything is held together by an impeccable producer-lineup, featuring Nedarb, Yung Cortex, Smokeasac, and Charlie Shuffler, among others With all of this at play,there’s no way this project will ever have anything to really
compare it to. Tracks like “OMFG”, “The Song They Played (When I Crashed into the Wall)”, and the Underoath-sampling title track all feature guitar-based samples that Peep, along with his producers, all come to warp into one unique, grandiose sound.That, and the lightning-in-a-bottle effect of when + how Hellboy
was recorded, is what made Hellboy
his first project to genuinely make waves, whether for praise or pure loathing.
The reason a lot of people don’t like the sound(s) that Lil Peep has to offer mainly comes down to his minimalistic approach to song structures, containing usually 1 (occasionally 2) verses, with a hook that rings either 2-4 times, depending on the track. I would argue this is essentially the emotional pre-cursor in the minimalistic/entrancing wave of trap, later spearheaded more psychedelically by Playboi Carti, rather than the minimalism being an unintentional fault. Lil Peep knew how to write songs that could break
into your head, and with Hellboy
, he used this talent of his to make the longest, most ambitious full length released in his lifetime. While the lyrics that bluntly come off as just teenage angst and drug glorification at initial listens, they start to manifest themselves into genuine, subtle cries for help. This is especially apparent now, particularly on tracks like “OMFG” with the main hook being ”I used to wanna kill myself / Came up, still wanna kill myself // My life is going nowhere / I want everyone to know that I don’t care,”
or the opening and closing lines of the following track, “The Song They Played…,” serving as a subtle cry for desperation, with the main lines being ”I don’t wanna die alone right now, but I admit I do sometimes / These drugs are calling me / Do one more line, don’t fall asleep”
. Even I, upon first listening to this project around the end of 2016, dismissed these lyrics as edgy, repetitive, or maybe even annoying.
But it’s when these lyrics are further explored, and given more context that the emotion all truly comes to fruition. Looking back, it was apparent Peep knew his addictions would get the best of him, and that’s never more emotionally potent and diversely presented than from the opening title track, all the way to the Avenged Sevenfold-sampled closer “Move On, Be Strong”. Almost everything is perfectly in place, and all at the right time, but painfully predictive in retrospect, which makes Hellboy
by Lil Peep one of the most ambitious, genuinely tragic, and thematically ignored projects of recent times.
”and the bitches call me Cobain / She can see the pain / Look me in the eyes girl, we are not the same”