Remembering Lil Peep
Bisexual performer Lil Peep was able to bring punk, emo and trap together and he was set to bring a new musical genre to the mainstream when he died as the result of a drug overdose at just 21 years old. Born Gustav Ahr, he touched countless lives through his words, his sound and his very being as we see in “Everybody’s Everything”, an intimate, humanistic portrait that tries “to understand an artist who attempted to be all things to all people.”
“Lil Peep stormed the independent music industry with his own brand of “Mumble Rap,” a genre that is defined by its unlimited amount of genre mashups and has its melodic flows and indecipherable lyrics mixed in with a thematic consciousness about anxiety, depression and being a millennial.”
Directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan’s Lil Peep documentary, “Everybody’s Everything,” is a hypnotic look at Ahr’s short life. We realize that he was a depressed kid, (despite all the praise that he received). On November 17th, 2017, Lil Peep was found dead due to a drug overdose in the back of his tour bus outside the Tucson, Arizona location where he’d been scheduled to perform. The film barely touches on what was, by all accounts, an addiction to drugs; his body tested positive for everything, from cannabis and cocaine, to Tramadol, benzos and oxycodone. Rather, the documentary concentrates on Ahr’s rough childhood with his abusive father completely abandoning the family, as well as Peep’s struggles with anxiety and depression and how his naivete led him to let those around him take advantage of his rising fame.
Leftist historian John Womack, a Rhodes Scholar whose dissertation on Zapata and the Mexican Revolution gained him a professorship at Harvard, was his grandfather, and father figure, who wrote hundreds of letters to his grandson throughout childhood and adulthood. The letters are read by Womack himself in the doc and they are a kind of manifesto on how to live your life in commendable and socialist-driven ways. Peep tried to do so to do but this also contributed to his impending downfall as he turned out to be too kind and too good-hearted to the “friends” that surrounded him on a daily basis.
The film is something of a requiem of sorts that use a millennial-driven setting of social media and fame to bring its message. It’s also a historic account of talent who dared to bared his heart and soul through his honest lyrics and he was part of a counter-culture movement that showed the problem that is occurring with today’s disassociated youth. We feel Peep crying for help in every frame.
This is a relevant meta-commentary on the enormous toxicity of “instafame” via social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. Even more than that it’s a look at what it’s like to be very young, righteously talented, and completely unaware of where dangers lie.
Lil Peep took the idea of “bedroom pop” to new heights. In the latter part of his short but influential career, he became known for his stage shows, which he would perform from a set meant to evoke his teenage bedroom. The gangly, tattoo-covered, pink-haired 20-year-old would stand before a forlorn twin-size bed and a wall of anime posters while his screaming fans sang every word of his songs back at him.
The directors chose to conduct the majority of their interviews with their sources in their bedrooms, often in bed. The bedrooms are not glamorous, the walls are dirty, often with crude graffiti, the bed sheets are unwashed and unmade and the subjects often seem swamped in them. Crumbs and ash and other residues cover Ikea bedside tables and glass coffee tables. Layla Shapiro, a.k.a. Toopoor, Peep’s ex-girlfriend, gives her interview in a gossamer puffed-sleeve gown, half-submerged under a comforter. There is a hand-painted Louis Vuitton logo on the wall above her.
For Lil Peep, the bedroom became a place of artistic and emotional freedom. But it’s also the place where we grieve. Executive produced by Ahr’s mother Liza Womack and Terrence Malick, the documentary is more emotional than definitive. It stops short of bestowing sainthood on the artist, but still aiming for something cosmic.