Even though I have a soft spot for Fred Durst, rap-rock has had a history of being terrible. The Beastie Boys get a pass, but the value of most rap rock is found in its nostalgia, not its musical merit (don’t kid yourself, Collision Course is an embarrassment). Enter Lil Peep, a 20 year-old Long Island native who is the ringleader of the GothBoiClique collective. Nothing feels particularly fresh about his aesthetic, but his unique brand of trap rap has him poised to blow up in 2017.
Lil Peep has no business being as good as he is. On paper, combining trap drums with ham-fisted guitar riffs should be terrible, but the way in which Lil Peep’s melodic, strained delivery combines with the instrumentation proves to be mesmerizing. His recently released SoundCloud tape, a joint project with fellow GothBoiClique member Lil Tracy called Castles II, is a brief but satisfying 13 minutes whose biggest flaw is its running time. Lil Tracy is a formidable running mate, but Lil Peep is clearly the member with star potential. Lines like “All this stress/Look at this mess/Look at my head, I'm better off dead” (from tape highlight “Dying Out West”) have the potential to be corny, but there is a certain earnestness at the heart of Lil Peep’s delivery that elicits head nods instead of eye rolls. Its impossible to tell if Lil Peep will truly breakout or if he is simply a SoundCloud flavor of the week, but he has already proven himself to be a rarity in both the rap rock and emo spheres; an artist that angsty teenagers can listen to today and look back ten years from now without any embarrassment. - Jake Johnson