Candour connected rapper to fans

Rapper Lil Peep struggled with drug use and suicidal impulses.
Rapper Lil Peep struggled with drug use and suicidal impulses.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Fans told rapper Lil Peep that his music saved their lives.

But the rapper, who over the past two years had emerged as one of pop music's brightest and most promising young talents, died on Wednesday in Tucson, Arizona. He was 21.

A spokesman for the Tucson Police Department said Lil Peep was pronounced dead on his tour bus at about 9pm. He had been scheduled to perform at a club.

Detectives found evidence suggesting that he died of an overdose of anti-anxiety medication Xanax.

Ms Sarah Stennett, chief executive of First Access Entertainment, a company which had worked with the rapper, said his mother "asked me to convey that she is very, very proud of him and everything he was able to achieve in his short life".

Lil Peep was born Gustav Ahr on Nov 1, 1996, and raised in Long Beach, New York. The son of a college professor father and an elementary schoolteacher mother, he took his name from a childhood nickname given by his mum.

After leaving high school early, he moved to Los Angeles to begin pursuing music in earnest, posting first on YouTube and, eventually, on streaming platform SoundCloud, finding a rabid following.

He put out his first mixtapes in 2015 and, last year, released two - Crybaby and Hellboy - which marked him as a potent, forward-looking synthesizer of styles with an uncanny knack for pop songcraft.

Many of those songs were recorded in his bedroom when he was living in Los Angeles. When he toured earlier this year, he re-created that bedroom on stage, using the actual mattress.

Lil Peep's music - simultaneously cocky and desperate, filled with woozy singing and nimble rapping - made him one of the most promising artists in the current generation emerging from SoundCloud.

In August, he released a new album, Come Over When You're Sober, Pt 1.

Lil Peep cut a striking figure: tall and gaunt; hair dyed pink or blond; and wearing an elaborate array of tattoos, including the words Get Cake Die Young and Crybaby, and an anarchy symbol on his face.

He moonlighted as an occasional runway model.

"It's like professional wrestling - everyone has to be a character," he told music website Pitchfork.

But he also struggled with drug use and suicidal impulses dating to his teenage years, he told The New York Times.

The frankness with which he spoke about the difficult parts of his life led to an especially intense connection with his fans.

"They say that I stopped them from committing suicide, which is a beautiful thing. It boosts me because music saved my life as well," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Candour connected rapper to fans'. Subscribe