Anyone who’s been keeping tabs on hip-hop’s evolution is bound to have picked up on the rise of SoundCloud rappers, the sort of Xanax-guzzling, sex-driven rappers characterised by DIY production styles and lyrics about being Xanax-guzzling and sex-driven. Perhaps more surprising than the number of artists fitting into such an unflinchingly rigid mould as this is how successful as a movement it has become, not just among underground circles but going as far to garner mainstream success and genuine, if slightly baffling critical acclaim. But even so, few of these artists have transcended zeitgeists as much as Lil Peep, the New York rapper with buzz building around the most disparate of musical universes, so much so that he’s already been dubbed the “future of emo” by some.
And if that isn’t proof that we’re living in the age of clickbait journalism, what is? There might be a peripheral love of the genre that shapes Lil Peep’s sound to a degree (his GothBoiClique collective does feature ex-Tigers Jaw member Adam McIlwee, after all), but on a purely musical front, pairing more prominent guitars with trap beats doesn’t constitute emo. That’s not to say that can’t be interesting in its own right though, and indeed, Come Over When You’re Sober (Part 1) (the apparent first wave of Lil Peep’s full-length debut) sticks to its most desirable outcome for the most part. Other than the choppy monotone of The Brightside, having the guitars simmer away in the background lends a good sense of depth and hollow darkness to these tracks, like the deathly lurch of Problems, or especially Benz Truck with its ominous stalk that billows away for some seriously effective sonic depth.
But then again, when something impressive on a project like this comes up, it’s something you want to latch onto and leech out as much positivity as possible for the sole reason to have at least something good to say. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that guitars are played into the equation with some level of competence, this EP would be dead in the water. Hell, there’s even problems to be extracted from that one positive, namely the fact that every single downbeat line sounds virtually identical, and when layered below the exact same boring, rattling trap beat on track after track, nothing stands out or catches the ear, rather bleeds together into one mushy, blackened mess.
Of course, Lil Peep himself doesn’t help. He spends almost the entire project singing for a start, adopting a horrifically forced faux-scene accent that would be too much for even the most hardened of parody acts to stomach. Then there’s the kind of character he’s trying to portray himself as, and while the lines are slightly widened in his favour when it comes to how much nihilism and self-medication he can get away with considering the open admission of his own mental state, there are still points on a track like Save That Shit that are clearly being edgy for edginess’ sake. And even then, Lil Peep still stands as one of a slew of trap rappers putting on the same persona in a manner that would be virtually indistinguishable if it wasn’t for his more deadpan delivery. Just look at The Brightside which, with its embrace and subsequent tradeoff of both suicidal relinquishment and unfettered hedonism, is basically a retread of Lil Uzi Vert’s XO Tour Llif3 placed in a more fleshed-out frame. Grouping all of these factors together, the one thing that makes Lil Peep stand out beyond anyone else is his current status as some kind of alternative icon that’s bound to fade when the next heavily tattooed, unquestionably edgy individual comes along.
But such is the life of a SoundCloud rapper. As unfair as it may sound, Lil Peep’s career is designed to be disposable, and nowhere does that seem more appropriate than on Come Over When You’re Sober (Part 1). What could have been an interesting pairing of sounds is squandered by no standout identity and a lack of effort that’s presumably supposed to sound cool instead of lazy and sloppy. The truth is, there’s nothing offensively bad here, mostly because there’s nothing worth remembering here; even if you’re actively seeking out rappers in this sort of vein playing this exact role (for some reason), there are better options out there than this.
For fans of: Blackbear, Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTENTACION
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Come Over When You’re Sober (Part 1)’ by Lil Peep is released on 18th August.