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New York Times Popcast: Remembering Lil Peep

A discussion of a complex personality with two people who knew him well.

Hazel Dequito

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Gustav Åhr, better known for his musical projects as Lil Peep, passed away on November 15, 2017. This episode of the New York Times’ Popcast hosted by Jon Caramanica, is a look back on Peep’s contribution to the music industry, his rise to stardom from SoundCloud, and drug addiction that led to his untimely death at 21 years old.

As far as handling the topic of death and all the circumstances that led up to Peep’s death, Caramanica manages it well. The episode features two guests: Roger Gengo and Adam22, both who knew Peep professionally and personally.

Bringing on guests to speak about Peep — especially these two who’ve worked with him — brings to the episode what Caramanica can’t: personal accounts, conversations, and experiences Peep didn’t share with the Internet or through his music. It’s so important. The guests change the assumptions that the public made about Peep, solely based on his music and appearance.

To people who weren’t familiar with him, Peep was just another SoundCloud rapper with face tattoos. But he was so much more than that. Peep was extremely talented with the way he integrated pop punk and emo music into a new sound and genre of music.

Caramanica handled this episode in the best possible way. Even if you aren’t a fan of Peep’s sound, the episode shows why and how Peep’s music was creating the traction and following it was.

Neither the host nor the guests shamed Peep or talked about him negatively, which is something some did after his death because of his use of drugs. Peep’s drug usage isn’t easy to talk about, but Caramanica addresses it with understanding.

It’s important not to villainize Peep because of his drug use. It’s time to have an open conversation about drug abuse and its current influence in the music industry. 

The use of drugs has become so common within the music industry — and especially within the underground rap community — that it’s nearly reached the point of glamorization. Drugs are casually mentioned in songs, portrayed in music videos, and used in rap/stage names. It’s become normalized. 

In an interview in 2016, Peep mentions that his favorite drug was Xanax, and it was the drug he reportedly overdosed on when it was laced with Fentanyl. Peep’s drug addiction stemmed from depression and anxiety —these drugs were his therapy. 

Many who knew Peep say that he was the most sincere, thoughtful, and humble person they knew. Gengo and Adam22 talk about this in the interview and it’s easy to feel their sincerity and love towards Peep when they talked about him.

This excellent episode couldn’t have been as heartfelt as it was without the two.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Hazel is in her second year of college at Drexel University, majoring in communications with a concentration in journalism. She has always loved writing but only recently decided to take up journalism. Hazel is also minoring in art history and enjoys painting in her free time.

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