These three tracks come from the last project the beloved emo rapper worked on before he died. They remind us how good he was, but don’t yield new insights.
Play Track”When I Lie” — Lil PeepVia (son of:
liza womack ) SoundCloud
Posthumous releases go through a quick, sad diminishing-returns cycle. The first one is usually the closest to the artist’s vision, and subsequent releases require deeper digs into the vault and more intervention to make whatever’s left back there presentable. That’s especially true of posthumous rap projects, which are subject to ever-more questionable guest features and production choices. With every release the artist’s presence grows fainter, the doubts about whether they would have wanted this louder.
Lil Peep’s posthumous output is subject to those same laws of gravity, even if so far the stewards of his legacy have done right by him. Save for a bonus track featuring XXXTentacion that Peep might not have approved of, 2018’s thoughtfully compiled Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2 was, if not quite Peep’s vision, at least a respectful imagining of what it might have been. And in some ways its follow-up EP GOTH ANGEL SINNER, short as it is, feels even more like Peep’s creation. Peep revealed the title himself on Twitter in 2017, just weeks before his overdose death at age 21. He performed its opening track “Moving On” on his final tour, and even co-directed the video for its closer “When I Lie.” The video isn’t much—a spur of the moment, one-take shoot filmed in a green room while on tour in Germany—but it’s evidence these three songs aren’t empty leftovers. They are, at minimum, vestiges of a project Peep cared about.
Lil Peep emerged at a time when it was no longer unusual for a young rapper to identify more with Kurt Cobain than Tupac. But where many of his SoundCloud peers embraced rock mostly as an ideal, borrowing its imagery and attitude but not necessarily its sounds, Peep made alternative a foundation of his aesthetic, and like much of his final output, GOTH ANGEL SINNER splits the difference between rap and modern rock. “Belgium” cloaks itself in a flanneled, In Utero-shaped riff, while the guitars on “When I Lie” crackle and glower like Linkin Park.
None of these tracks do anything fancy. They’re disarmingly direct, barebones enough that they feel like demos despite their crisp finish. It’s Peep’s intuitive phrasing that makes them soar. “I was out in Belgium on tour, that’s the day that I convinced myself that I was truly yours,” he scowls, and as wordy as that prose reads on paper, his groggy delivery imbues every syllable with intention and implied backstory. His writing is never flashy, but it’s flowered with nonchalant internal rhyme: “Stick that needle in my eye, just lost my peace of mind/I’m not evil by design but I feel dead at times,” he raps on “When I Lie,” in a flow at once drowsy and purposeful. He was so good at this.
Lil Peep’s fame hadn’t peaked when he died, and GOTH ANGEL SINNER is further evidence of how high his ceiling was. Especially given how Post Malone rode a related strain of emotive, rock-suggestive rap to fame and fortune, it’s easy enough to imagine the star that Peep could have become. But posthumous releases can only tell us so much we didn’t already know. They can only speak to what no longer is, not what would have been. And as welcome as any unreleased Peep material is, the declines are already on display on GOTH ANGEL SINNER: It sounds a lot like Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2, but there’s a lot less of it. It’s possible there’s still some worthwhile material left in Peep’s vault, but it’s increasingly unlikely there are any revelations.