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Lil Peep’s life was tragically cut short on November 15, 2017. The cause of Lil Peep’s death stands as a message to our youth as a whole, as well as future generations to come. The controversial death surrounding this artist, however, should not take away from his true musical genius.
Gustav Elijah Åhr, formally known as Lil Peep, was born on November 1st, 1996. It is almost impossible to find a “right” starting point when writing an article such as this. Where does one begin? A tragedy of this magnitude is not easy to explain and I am truly afraid of not giving Gustav the entire credit he deserves, nor do I want to speak on his behalf. Perhaps it is best to view his career from a third-person perspective and analyze the various pivots he made in his career, which inevitably lead to his downfall.
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Gustav was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and both his parents, were in fact, Harvard Graduates. When Gustav was a teenager, his parents decided to get a divorce, perhaps one of the earliest emotional tragedies Gustav faced. Anyone who has witnessed or experienced the effects of divorce knows the possible ramifications this can have on an already depressed teenager. Gustav often had difficulty maintaining personal relationships in school and formed a majority of them online. Gustav was a very intelligent child and although his attendance during high school could be described as “spotty”, he remained on the Dean’s List whilst he attended. Gustav was not an un-intelligent kid, in fact, he was extraordinarily smart. We can see through Gustav’s lack of interpersonal relationships during his time in highschool, and his mother’s heartwarming speech following his death, that he likely suffered from an extreme form of depression . Perhaps this could shed some light on Gustav’s internal well-being. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that over 300 million people around the globe suffer from depression, each day.
At the age of 17, Gustav had made the decision to move to Los Angeles. Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, he spent a fair amount of time combatting homelessness, residing in what is formally known as, Skidrow. After some time in Skidrow, Peep was able to reach out to various producers and artists such as “Ghostmane”, and was given the opportunity to live with these influential individuals, as they collaboratively formed the group, “Schemaposse”. It is said that during his first year in Skidrow, Gustav made an attempt at pursuing Community College; this did not work out for very long due to the spontaneous success of his music, among various other aspects (depression, drugs, etc.).
2015 was an extremely productive year for Gustav, releasing two mixtapes titled “Lil Peep Part One” and “Live Forever”. The popularity of these mixtapes and the immense amount of plays they had received upon their initial release date, was the catalyst which allowed Gustav and the rest of Schemaposse to perform live in 2016. Schemaposse eventually broke, and Gustav began to associate with different artists, under the name “Gothboiclique”. Gustav released the album “Crybaby” with them, and in September 2016, the team had introduced the album titled “Hellboy”. This album pulled millions of views and listens from Soundcloud and Youtube collectively and was ultimately the catalyst in Gustav’s long-awaited musical career.
After the drop of Hellboy, Gustav and his team set back hard at work, pushing for the next album, “Come Over When You’re Sober” released on August 15, 2017. The release of this new album meant a new tour. Starting on August 2, 2017, the tour was intended to end November 17, 2017, however, the tour was pulled to halt, due to his tragic and spontaneous death.
During Peep’s time as a musician, he was extremely innovative. Gustav created what is now known as “heartthrob emo rap”, but I have never been one for placing artists in specific genres, especially an artist as diverse as Gustav. Gustav mixed a variety of musical genres such as rock, trap, dream-pop, punk and some individuals will argue, post-hardcore. As the reader, I ask you to listen for yourself and be YOUR OWN judge.
Gustav’s life was cut short due to a lethal overdose of the drug Fentanyl, after receiving pills from a fan on tour marketing them as the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. What is the main takeaway? Gustav was an extremely intelligent individual and traveled to many places that most of us will not get to see in our entire lifetime. Some of these places include Paris, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Texas, California, and pretty much every other state. Gustav was, like many, passionate about music, a sufferer of depression, and did not receive the proper help. As the fact mentioned above states, the amount of individuals suffering from depression around the globe is unfathomable. I ask you, not to look back on Gustav’s life with grief. Instead, search for the light. The feelings portrayed by Gustav throughout his music truly resonates with the listener. In his attempt to self-medicate, he was given the wrong medication and lost his life because of it. Please take these lessons into your own life and try to learn from them. Gustav has a truly incredible and passionate story. I ask you to open your arms and ears, and in knowing this background information, try to understand where he came from.
Joseph Labriola is currently 22 years old and attends Rutgers University. He majors in ITI, followed by a minor in psychology. He has eight years of experience playing the guitar and three years of experience playing drums. His musical taste varies greatly and love's listening to any form of old school hip-hop, rock, indie, emo, rap, jazz, jam bands, etc.