“Why is Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 an important album? Why is it worth discussing? There are several reasons. First: Gus was a trailblazer in his field… He was an honest person.” —Liza Womack, “Lil Peep’s mother explains the importance of his first posthumous album”
Where would hip-hop be if Lil Peep were still alive? The question occupies my thoughts each time Juice WRLD’s hit singles fill a room or dominate a car ride. Juice is obviously the next piece of Lil Peep’s emo rap puzzle. Though stylistically different enough, they are of one lineage and it is difficult to hear “All Girls Are the Same” and not imagine the Lil Peep remix floating in the collective hip-hop unconscious ether. All of this is to say, Lil Peep is still very much living and breathing in today’s hip-hop scene. His voice is not yet absent from the music landscape.
Yet, prior to November 9, all we had of Peep was his back catalog—his voice in the past tense. Now, with the posthumous release of Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2, we have the remnants of his voice in the present. COWYS2 stands to be the not-so-faulty recording of the shout Peep would have made, had addiction not taken his life. Pressing play on the album, promised by his mother to be the exact record her son would have wanted to release, there is only one question that need be answered: where does this record fit in Lil Peep’s legacy?
From the biting wind, creeping winter bells, and distant and wailing static, we find that COWYS2 fits right in. That is, it picks up right where the first installment concluded. Just as Pt. 1 was haunting and hip-hop-inspired, but more pop punk-leaning than not, so too is the second installment. The vocals have the same commercial sheen that confidently brought Pt. 1 into the hip-hop space, but also left behind some of Peep’s most raw vocal sensibilities. The record busts open with Peep howling, “She was the girl with the broken smile.” It’s really a Lil Peep album.
On COWYS2, there are few roots of Lil Peep that feel abandoned. So much so, that certain tracks—“Life Is Beautiful,” for one—are reworks of previously released material. The record does not have one glorious Blink-182-inspired moment a la “Awful Things,” but rather the guitar-strung angst (“Broken Smile,” “Cry Alone”) is spread across the 11 tracks with a deft hand. Though this dilutes some of the potential and welcome grit of the album, it does speak to Lil Peep’s deep love for Blink and Green Day and stays true to his sonic origins. He began as a bedroom hero, and he will go down as a bedroom hero. Hell, his bedroom was his set for the tour.
In tandem, the beloved grizzle and bloody imagery of Peep’s 2016 opus Hellboy finds a home on COWYS2. Literally, on “IDGAF,” Peep declares that he is “bleeding out my laptop / blood leaking out my laptop.” Much of the writing on this album mimics and extends the viscera of Hellboy. The woozy texture of his voice on “IDGAF,” and the more subdued “Hate Me” and “White Girl,” reminds us of Hellboy’s “Nose Ring,” and the content speaks to the terminal drug addiction that consumed him to his last breath. It’s enough to make your skin crawl—that is, until you recall that four tracks earlier he sang of his suicide attempts and shock at surviving. That’s the kind of self-inflicted and afflicted writing that won over fans when he debuted in 2015. Terrifying how much can change and cease to be in three year’s time.
With that, “IDGAF” is the clear album hero, if only because we are finally treated to the grotesque and guttural energy that was missing from Pt. 1. “Ride ‘til the wheels fall off and my heart stops / I can’t feel my face, but I won’t stop,” Peep continues. Eventually, he begs the enigmatic woman on the track to fuck him until his heart stops. How very brilliantly Lil Peep of him. In fact, it is the troubling way Lil Peep writes about sex that helps keep this album in his canon. Not sex, but fucking. Exclusively, Peep writes about fucking, even on the conversely titled “Sex With My Ex.” This track, along with “IDGAF” and “White Girl” use fucking as a vehicle for existing.
The greater moral here is not that Peep was sex-crazed, but rather that his vices brought him to consciousness and made him feel alive. It is both disturbing and woefully artistic. The way Lil Peep comprehends sex on Pt. 2 gives us a glimpse into the way his addictions ruled his life and consumed him. With that, most of the album is a lesson in consumption: what we are poised to consume and how it can swallow us whole.
In nearly all ways, this record is a course correction for Lil Peep without becoming too much of a harkening to his past iterations. True, Pt. 2 doesn't have a stormy and early standout ala “Benz Truck,” but that is because the album is a moment all its own. We do get close, though. The caustic writing and tales of suicide attempts that drive “Leanin” and desperate drug talk that outfits “16 Lines” are quintessential Lil Peep songs fit for any of his celebrated mixtapes. Where we seek out hits and lasting impressions, Pt. 2 hooks into listeners as a whole body of work, and not solely because of the posthumous novelty. The album may struggle to have a single, pungent sonic identity, but there is never a moment wherein we feel Lil Peep has been lost in the shuffle of label-fueled cash grabs. There is a tangible goodwill to this record that cannot go understated.
Much of that goodwill comes across in the written threads and lyrical throughlines. Again, on paper, all of the classic Peep content is present. Better yet, there is some special attention paid to common motifs across his music. Single “Runaway” features a line about loving a “ghost girl,” an allusion to 2016 mixtape Crybaby’s “Ghost Girl” and second track “Lil Jeep” (“I remember when you used to hold my hand / Now you actin' like a ghost, girl / Live forever with a smile stuck on your face / You think he know you, but I know you the most, girl”).
We could wager that perhaps this is weaponizing our familiarity with Peep. Perhaps this is an attempt to make us feel at home when we are actually writhing somewhere foreign and insidious, but with the knowledge that his mother and closest collaborators spearheaded this effort, that would not be the fair conclusion. Rather, we are simply witnessing loved ones attempting to capture Lil Peep’s growth and artistic direction in real time despite his clock running out. Through that lens, the “ghost girl” bar is a sweet ode. It endears the album to us despite the tragedy surrounding its release.
Lil Peep had so much more to say—so much more to explore and unpack. The leaks of the Goth Angel Sinner EP give us yet another glimpse into what could have been. The vocal mixing is dirtier, the writing more distressing—needles to the eye as the main image for a full track—but all the same the EP feels frozen in time. COWYS2 is evidently forward-thinking. There was a clear and concerted effort to not only fuse all the essential elements of Lil Peep but to project his future and pay respect to his past. The album is everything Lil Peep ever was, and with that, it struggles to have a clear identity. Of course it would struggle, not simply in light of the sensitive nature of the release, but because Lil Peep was lost before he came to a lucidity of his own.
Peep’s mother answers the question for us: “Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 is important because it's the album to serve as the model for the way we handle the problem of the posthumous release of the work of the young artists who have left no explicit directions about what to do with their work if they die before they release it themselves.”
Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 2 attempts to dot a timeline and snap a timeline in the same go, and for the most part, it works. Is this the album Lil Peep would have wanted to put out? We'll have no way of knowing, but it is probably very close. Rest in peace.
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