Punk-Hop Love Letter to the Late Rapper Lil Peep Soars High
SXSW Film premieres Everybody’s Everything
By Marc Savlov,
11:35AM, Mon. Mar. 11, 2019
You’ll be forgiven if you’re over the age of 30 and the artist known by his nom de musique Lil Peep somehow eluded heavy rotation in your bedroom. Co-directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan’s unreservedly moving and brilliantly crafted documentary aims to change that, while cementing Peep’s posthumous rep as a SoundCloud superstar.
Comparisons to SXSW 2007 favorite Amy Winehouse and the 2015 doc Amy notwithstanding, Everybody’s Everything is an even more relevant meta-commentary on the enormous toxicity of insta-fame via social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. More than that, though, it’s a snapshot of what it’s like to be very young, righteously talented, and completely unaware of where the landmines lie.
Born Gustav “Gus” Ahr to a pair of Harvard grads whose eventual divorce is seen as just one of many emotional wounds incurred during a difficult childhood, Peep gravitated toward the artistic and outré early on. One of the most fascinating aspects of this doc is watching the transformation of towheaded, grinning Lil Gus into the heavily inked and hedonistic Peep via shaky home videos and, later on, equally unstable iPhone FaceTime streams. Instability is the unspoken but obvious through line of both the movie and its subject. Peep’s chaotic background and home life – or lack thereof; for a time, he’s seen living in Los Angeles’ grime-encrusted Skidrow – are perfectly mirrored in his music, a brazenly bombastic mashup of clattering TR-808 beats, emo-confessional lyrics, and insecurity-masking swagger. Interviews with various collaborators, his manager, and his mother Liza Womack (who serves as the film‘s executive producer alongside Terrence Malick and Sarah Stennett) add context to the chaos, while an inspired narration of sorts, spoken by Peep’s beloved grandfather, adds an elegiac yet utterly heartfelt tone throughout.
Lil Peep died from an accidental overdose of Xanax and Fentanyl while on tour in Arizona in 2017. The documentary, however, makes a convincing argument that the real cause of death was, as the title implies, his desire to be everything to everybody. It’s a cautionary, melancholic tale of the incessant demand de rigueur of 24/7/365 internet celebrity. Love it or hate it, here and now, everybody’s a potential Icarus.
Oops! An earlier version of this review mistakenly stated Lil Peep died in the UK. We apologize for the error.
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