Emerging rapper Lil Peep, whose real name is Gustav Ahr, passed away on Wednesday night (Nov. 15) at 21 years old.
The rapper, who released his debut studio album in August, had amassed a cult following of young fans who related to his candid songs about mental health, substance abuse, among other issues — combining elements of pop punk and emo into rap, bringing a fresh take on the genre that got him dubbed the “future of emo” by Pitchfork.
Within the last year, Lil Peep gained the admiration of artists such as Post Malone, Diplo, Marshmello, Ty Dolla $ign, and even his heroes Blink-182. His time in the spotlight may have been cut tragically short, but he played a key role in opening up an important conversation about mental health in rap, likely changing the future of the genre.
Here’s a timeline of how Lil Peep went from Soundcloud MC to rap star:
Lil Peep moves from Long Island to Los Angeles (2013):
Shortly after finishing high school through an online course after dropping out, Lil Peep decided to move to Los Angeles to fulfill his dreams of being a rapper. He found out about the local underground rap scene through YouTube and Soundcloud and wanted to become a part of it.
Lil Peep releases mixtapes LIL PEEP PART ONE and Live Forever (Late 2015):
In September Lil Peep released his first mixtape, gaining over 4,000 streams during its first week on SoundCloud. The success of his Soundcloud led to him beginning to gain a fanbase and recognition from other rappers. After noticing the sudden success of his first mixtape, the rapper released Live Forever a few months later, featuring collaborations with Yung Goth and Lil Skil.
Lil Peep officially joins Goth Boi Clique (Sept. 25, 2016):
The rapper became part of the Goth Boi Clique collective, which focused on melodic trap with emotional lyrics, highly influenced by rock subgenres like pop-punk and grunge. The collective was built to create a space for like-minded rappers who shared the same niche interests within the genre, allowing Lil Peep to find a place of his own within the scene.
Pitchfork dubs Lil Peep “the future of emo” (Jan. 9, 2017):
A profile written by current Billboard editor Steven Horowitz allowed Peep to gain attention from a mass audience beyond his SoundCloud listeners, polarizing readers by applying the “future of emo” tag to the young rapper in the story’s headline. The extensive piece led to an influx of Peep think pieces among writers, with music publications such as Noisey discussing his role within the broad emo genre.
Mineral accuse Lil Peep of sampling “Love Letter Typewriter” without permission (May 4, 2017):
After Lil Peep tweeted “Stop putting my fucking music on apple music and Spotify and making money off my work u cunta,” emo veterans Mineral responded by calling out Peep for using “Love Letter Typewriter” in Gab3 collab “Hollywood Dreaming.” Gab3 responded saying they were “just showing love.”
Lil Peep comes out as bisexual (Aug. 8, 2017):
Peep took to Twitter to open up about this facet of his personal life, simply stating “yes i’m bi sexual.” Shortly after, he asked his fans if any of them wanted a kiss.
Lil Peep releases debut album Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 1 (Aug. 15, 2017):
After steadily growing his fanbase and releasing multiple mixtapes and EPs, the rapper released his highly anticipated debut album, a 23-minute-long raw record made with the help of Grammy-winning producer Rob Cavallo. The album symbolized a departure from his SoundCloud days, with its absence of samples from other artists, and cemented his position as an artist to look out for.
Bella Thorne and Lil Peep begin dating (Sept. 2017):
Shortly after the release of his debut, Lil Peep was spotted kissing singer/actress and former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne. The two briefly dated, before Thorne became involved with fellow rapper Mod Sun.
The death of Lil Peep is confirmed (Nov. 16):
On November 16, Peep’s manager Chase Ortega broke the news of his passing on Twitter, saying “I’ve been expecting this call for a year. Mother fuck.” Authorities believe the cause of death was a Xanax overdose, a drug that Peep regularly referenced in his songs and on social media.