Friday, November 29, 2019

[Review] Everybody’s Everything

Sometime in late 2016, I stumbled across a scrawny, tattooed faced kid who made music that sounded like bold mixture of rap, pop-punk, and emo. Think — Green Day meets Chief Keef... My Chemical Romance meets Future. Nirvana meets Lil B. It didn’t fully click with me first, but I found myself always being drawn back to it. It became fascinating. I couldn’t look away. And pretty soon it became an all-out obsession as I digged deeper, intently seeking out every piece of music he would go on to release.

That artist’s name was Lil Peep (real name Gustav Ahr). His music infiltrated my universe. It captivated me, it comforted me, and I listed to it on repeat for all of 2017. That very same year, on November 15th, I woke up to the gut-wrenching news that my new favorite artist had suddenly died from a drug overdose — the same chemical that took Prince away. He was just 21 years old. I cried, I felt sick, and I listened to his music in a whole new way.

Everybody’s Everything (the title is taken from one of Lil Peep’s poignant final messages to his fans) is a new Terrence Malick-produced documentary about  Gus’s whirlwind of a life. The superb film serves as a remarkably in-depth and impressively comprehensive portrait of Lil Peep’s incredibly fast rise to prominence and his tragic departure from this world.

The well-edited film is stocked with intimate and raw footage of Peep that ranges from exciting to warm to funny to startling to disturbing to heartbreaking. It’s complete with candid interviews from managers, music writers, producers, peers, significant collaborators like Lil Tracy and ILoveMakonnen, and his very own mother Liza Womack, who has handled Peep’s legacy with grace and class and love. “I’m still doing all this because I don’t want to let him go,” she says with tears in her eyes. Another extremely emotional element of the documentary is the narrative inclusion of the beautiful letters that Peep’s beloved grandpa wrote to him as he began his ascension to stardom. The letters give us a heartfelt look at Lil Peep as a human being. He was a gentle soul, a highly motivated worker, and he never wanted to disappoint anyone. This is driven home by the sweet childhood footage of him that’s interspersed throughout the film. His wide-eyed innocence never really left, even when things got really dark.

Lil Peep’s influence and innovation is made strikingly clear here. He essentially created his own genre and provided a powerful voice for outsiders and people battling their own personal demons — and he did it with equal parts magnetic swagger and heart-on-sleeve vulnerability. His music was sonically ambitious, potent, and chill-inducing, and it will live on.

Everybody’s Everything is a lovingly crafted ode to an amazing artist and it’s a troubling cautionary tale of a young light gone way too soon.

Rest In Peep.

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