In the Lil Peep canon, we have a selection of songs which stand as the pantheon of his musical prowess: “Star Shopping,” “witchblades,” “Beamer Boy,” “Benz Truck,” “Life Is Beautiful,” and finally released on streaming, “crybaby.” The titular track of his 2016 mixtape, crybaby, this song takes its ethos from 2015’s “Star Shopping,” which Peep’s mom described as his “big song.” Much like “Star Shopping,” “crybaby” is gentle and emotive, is of the soul, and made from the heart. The song, much like the mixtape on which it lives, feels localized to Peep’s world. A world he kindly brought us into time and time again.
“I always knew I was gonna be an artist. I was very confident in that,” Peep said in 2017. This confidence led Peep to make many a catchy and affecting tune, and “crybaby” is no different. Few artists know who they are as well as Lil Peep knew himself, and looking back on the first sentence of this piece, I find it incredible to see Peep’s iconic canon packed to the brim with stylistic cousins and moments of pivotal growth. It would be easy to—in light of Peep’s untimely passing—call each of his songs a “classic,” but it would not be a stretch to say “crybaby” is one of a handful of perfect Lil Peep songs.
For starters, “crybaby” feels perfect precisely because it is precious. “It’s there to let people know they’re not alone,” Peep said of his music back in 2017. Produced by Lil Peep and Lederrick, Peep croons, “Oh, it’s a lonely world, I know,” on the hook, as if speaking directly to his fans. The “I know” is kindly, positions Peep as a bard for the hopeless. “I’m makin’ music to cry to,” Peep explains on the repeated verse.
These tears are shared—Lil Peep exists on the plane of shared experience; that’s what makes “crybaby” so perfect. Not a moment of pomp. Not a second of grandstanding. Not an instance of performance. It’s all Peep. “I wouldn’t be alive right now without music,” he told i-D. “It’s got me out of serious drug addiction. It’s got me through suicidal shit, self-harm, the list goes on… Music makes me cry. It helps me let shit out and express myself—both listening to it and making it… You know, a lot of people nowadays are making music that’s glorifying depression and suicide. I’m just speaking about my real life and documenting it in my music.”
The slow creep of “crybaby” allows us to sink into the song. There are no overt complexities here to unpack. Peep made a touching song meant to unfold over the skin like a light burn, how it singes and leaves its mark, does little harm, but stays with us for all-time. As the production begins to swell, we get the centerpiece line of “crybaby:” “I wanna die, too, we all wanna die, too.” This is a moment of critical communion between Peep, his emotions, and his fans’ emotions.
Though more succinct, these words echo the chorus of “Star Shopping” (“Look at the sky tonight, all of the stars have a reason / A reason to shine, a reason like mine and I’m fallin’ to pieces / Look at the sky tonight, all of the stars have a reason”), and give us the warm sense Lil Peep is here for us. Circling back to the “I know,” every instance of pain on “crybaby” weaves together to quietly cheerlead us through the song, wherein the song stands for any and all trials Peep and his fans might face.
We see the ethos of “crybaby” in Peep’s newer material as well. Released in 2018, “Life Is Beautiful” carries the same message as “crybaby” right from the opening line: “I know that it hurts sometimes, but it’s beautiful.” As Peep spends “Life Is Beautiful” rattling off hardships and battling back against external and internal depressors, we get the sense he never strayed from his roots—even as his star rose.
“The album’s centerpiece is a word about persevering through terrible circumstances,” Craig Jenkins wrote for Vulture. “The duality in the lyric, a series of snapshots of people living through hard hits like illness and bereavement, is the core thrust of Lil Peep’s music: Feelings suck because they’re uncontrollable and unpredictable, but the never-ending push and pull in our hearts and our heads is the meat of human existence.”
We see this “push and pull” Jenkins notes in lines like “Speedin’ down the highway, lookin’ at the street lights / Geekin’ on a Friday, I can never sleep right.” Peep’s demons sully this portrait of youth, and yet, there’s a gravity missing. Everything feels light at this moment on “crybaby.” Part of the song’s perfection, then, is how we don’t exist outside of Lil Peep as we listen. We do not look on; we look within. We look within Peep’s world and see our world. When music acts as a mirror, it then transcends a particular canon. It becomes something bigger than itself. “crybaby” is a perfect Lil Peep song, and might even be a perfect track altogether.
“I got the ‘CryBaby’ tattoo on my face to remind me that I have been doing really good, and there’s a lot of people on earth who would love to be in the position I’m in... It keeps me really grateful.” –Lil Peep
Too, “crybaby” stands as a moment for Peep to reflect on his worth. As he told GQ, his corresponding “CryBaby” face tattoo was meant to keep him grounded, to remind him of his joys. There’s something incredible in that, seeing as how a majority of “crybaby” the song is forlorn, but somehow, heartwarming. Just look at lines like: “But I could be cool too, and you got them dance moves / And I got this vibe, I swear it’s perfect to ride to.” It’s a brisk break from the dour tone of “crybaby,” where Peep spends a majority of the track casing his usual themes of suicide and heartache. There’s a silver lining to the moment of “crybaby”; Lil Peep is the silver lining.
Four years on, “crybaby” and crybaby are beacons in Lil Peep’s discography. Roger Gengo, the host of the Masked Gorilla Podcast, did a sit down with Lil Peep’s mother, Liza Womack, Peep’s brother, and producers Nedarb and Lederrick. Throughout this hour-plus podcast, I witnessed the people closest to Peep and “crybaby” rally around Lil Peep’s creativity and his undeniable force in the music world.
“He never really played it for me on purpose,” Womack said of the songs Peep worked on for crybaby. “It was always blasting out of his room.” Lil Peep’s bedroom became the world’s bedroom—even his live tour set was a bedroom. We all communed around his takes on drugs, girls, pain, and prosperity. I find myself mumbling the words to “crybaby” during the idlest times of my day. The song is a cornerstone of Peep’s canon. To have it on streaming, to have it accessible for all to encounter and live with, is nothing short of a blessing. Lil Peep knew the world was lonely and destitute for most, and he did everything in his power to add light.