When Lil Peep tragically died in November 2017, almost a year to the day before the release of Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2, he left behind an untapped vault of material and potential. After putting out his debut album, Come Over When You’re Sober, on streaming services two weeks early “for the culture,” fans were anxiously awaiting its follow-up; something, sadly, he never got to release himself. Peep made his name rapping brutally honest lyrics reminiscent of his emo idols over beats and samples, but on Come Over When You’re Sober, he showed that he was also skilled at creating something entirely new.
While Peep was fervently beloved and understood by an obsessive fanbase who helped propel him to mainstream recognition, he was rarely taken seriously by mainstream media and older emo fans. That appeared to be changing around the time of his death; the hype around him was escalating, with everyone from designers to famous emo artists fascinated by his look and sound. He was walking runways, being shot for magazines, being talked about by the people he idolized. However, in death, he’s been covered by sites as respected as The New York Times. A documentary accompaniment executive-produced by Terrence Malick is on its way. It’s sad that it took him dying for the entire world to see his true potential, but it’s some kind of vindication for the fans who stood by him to see the world finally taking notice.
For the release of Come Over When You’re Sober Pt.2, Peep’s management company First Access have brought major label Columbia Records on board. First Access, Peep’s mom Liza Womack, and producers IIVI and Smokeasac have pulled together unreleased songs from the original Come Over When You’re Sober sessions with other material to create a cohesive, polished album. They’ve had to navigate creating a record while bearing in mind Peep’s wishes; difficulties his mom has been upfront about. At a listening party for the record in New York in October, Womack tackled this issue, saying that the album is important “because Gus is dead. But it’s the album he would have made if he were alive”. And with the world looking to her to continue a legacy Peep had impressively begun before even his 21st birthday, she’s had a lot of responsibility.
Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 fades in on “Broken Smile (My All),” which with ghostly keys and Peep singing “I gotta go right now” sets a precedent for an album that shows just how much potential he had to be a fully developed and respected artist. From there, the album takes on a different meaning posthumously than it would if he were alive. Even on his older material, listening now, lyrics about drug abuse and suicide that we skimmed over when Peep was alive take on a new, darker meaning. On Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2, the lyrics sound almost prophetic: On “Runaway,” Peep sings “I was dying and nobody was there”. On “Leanin”: “I tried to die last night, survived suicide last night,” on “16 Lines,” hauntingly, “wonder who you’ll fuck when I die, if I tried to go would you cry.” On “Life Is Beautiful”: “there comes a time everybody meets the same fate, I think imma die alone inside my room”. Lyrics we once expected from Peep sound prescient; he seems to be predicting his own end, and that gives the music a haunting quality it might not have had a year ago.
Peep’s vocals, often more spoken than sung, were always melodic and at times raspy. His unique voice comes into its own on Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2. Now, he’s really singing; enunciating, even, but it sounds ethereal, on “16 Lines” he almost echoes “is anybody out there? Can anybody hear me?” and it’s hard not to feel like he’s close. The production adds to that, too; with swirling beats and eerie keys. With the hard work of IIVI, Smokesaac and everyone else involved in making it whole, the album is polished without losing the originality that made Peep special. Not only that, but it shows an impressive maturing in both his sound and the content of the lyrics.
Some of that maturing is, of course, down to the partnering with Columbia Records and the amount of effort that went into making this a finished product rather than a SoundCloud release. But a lot of the credit has to go to how much Peep managed to develop his own sound before he died – his voice is smoother, still recognisable but sounding a lot more like singing than talk-rapping over sampled beats. The music is more developed, with recognisable instruments that bring him closer yet to the label of “emo” that he was happy to be associated with, even without the samples.
That maturing is also seen as Peep comes out of himself, singing less about his own struggles and hinting at more political lyrics – on “Life is Beautiful”, Peep sings about his own suicidal thoughts, but opens it up to more adult difficulties, singing to a universal [you] who is bogged down by the drudgery of office work, attending funerals, being diagnosed with a tumour. He sarcastically sings “isn’t life beautiful?” before it turns to a darker “I think that life is horrible”. The song is overtly political; he sings “they’ll kill your little brother and they’ll tell you he’s a criminal” and “welcome to America, this type of shit is typical.” This shows growth, but it also shows his influence; he follows up his political commentary with “if you ever need a friend, you’ve got me”, a line that combined with the commentary feels closer to influences Good Charlotte and songs like “Hold On” and “We Believe.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the old Peep is gone entirely. He does rap about taking drugs on “Cry Alone” and “16 Lines,” there’s some bragging about sex, and on “Hate Me,” he leans into his pop punk influences, singing that everyone hates him and he wants to leave town but doesn’t want to let someone down. On “IDGAF,” he raps “I don’t even know if I give a fuck about anything” and “fuck me when the beat drop, baby fuck me til my heart stop” in a style more reminiscent of his older songs, with motifs like “blood leaking out my laptop”. On White Girl, he sings about fucking someone who doesn’t love him; who likes that he’s famous, in a slow rap that sounds more like the songs pre-Come Over When You’re Sober.
The album closes on “Fingers,” a song that’s an encapsulation of not only everything Peep was, but everything that he could have come to be with time. It sounds not unlike Blink-182 or Taking Back Sunday; with an upbeat, pop-punk style beat and guitar and self-deprecating lines like “I’m a nightmare, you don’t wanna know me” and “everyone hates me, nobody knows me.” From there it takes on the same ethereal, prescient quality that feels unique to this album: he sings “we gotta move on” and “where did the time go, can somebody show me” which in retrospect sounds like he’s predicting his own death. It builds to a sad instrumental, closing the entire album on Peep’s voice singing “I’m not gona last here, I’m not gonna last long” as the song fades out, leaving the listener with those seemingly prophetic words echoing.
It’s hard to be objective about an album that is shrouded in sadness and carries so much personal weight for everyone involved. It is nothing short of a tragedy that the world lost Peep before he had the chance to show us everything that he was capable of. But there is some small comfort to be found in the fact that his estate is being so closely guarded by people with only his best interests in mind, and that the world will get to hear a small part of what he had planned. The growth shown on Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 is bittersweet; it’s a gift to the fans to hear just what he could do, to know that they were right all along. Lil Peep was difficult for people outside of a certain age range or who didn’t see the value in Myspace-ready lyrics to get their head around: his abrasive style, his honesty, his refusal to stick to the rules of genre. But Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 is a mature, complete record that shows he had the potential to reach everybody in good time; now, he just might.
Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 is a time capsule of a talent we are all missing out to have lost; but we are lucky to have gotten to hear as much of Peep as we did. During his life, Peep came to be recognized by some as “the future of emo.” Even in death, he’s proved that he was; that the future of the genre lies in the lessons we can learn from him: from his honesty, his commitment, and his raw talent.
- Words: Marianne Eloise