What Would Lil Peep Think of His New Song With XXXTentacion?
Releasing posthumous music is a tricky deal, one that requires being sensitive to the spirit of a deceased artist (as well as their friends and families), while simultaneously satiating the hunger of fans and the marketplace. Aaliyah’s vocals, for instance, have been used on songs by Drake and Chris Brown in the years since her death; Timbaland said he did not approve of their use, but it wasn’t his decision to make. Prince tightly controlled his catalog while he was alive, but after his death his estate has gone to places he wouldn’t, including to Spotify. A debate about posthumous releases popped up again yesterday, when a new single by Lil Peep and XXXTentacion entitled “Falling Down” was released by Columbia Records—which acquired the rights to Peep’s catalog—and the song’s co-writer, the rapper iLoveMakonnen.
The record, originally known as “Sunlight On Your Skin,” was an unreleased 2017 collaboration between Peep and Makonnen, recorded when the two were working on an album together in London before Peep’s overdose in November 2017. In an interview with XXL, Makonnen explained how XXXTentacion reached out to him about appearing on the song after Peep’s death: “X had heard the snippet on YouTube and he wanted to be a part of it and he recorded some parts to it. [X] ended up passing away, and his mom and his family were reaching out to Peep’s management and everybody saying the song was something that [X] was very passionate about before he passed and he would really like to be a part of this and [asked] if we could make this happen.”
This appears to be how “Falling Down” came to exist. However, the song is far from without controversy stemming from claims made by some of Peep’s collaborators that he did not like XXXTentacion, and wouldn’t have agreed to collaborate with him. As Noisey reported yesterday, much of Lil Peep’s GothBoiClique collective objected, at least initially, to the release of the song with X’s involvement. Back in August, GBC member Fish Narc posted an Instagram story in which he slammed the collaboration saying, “[Peep] explicitly rejected XXX for his abuse of women, spent time and money getting XXX’s songs removed from his Spotify playlists, and wouldn’t have co-signed that song. Don’t listen to it.” The rapper Lil Tracy, who was one of Peep’s closest collaborators, claimed in a now-deleted tweet that Peep and X were “never even friends [and] didn’t even like each other.” GBC co-founder Wicca Phase seemed to send a similar though veiled message about his discomfort with the record in a tweet that compared major labels to the famous Francisco Goya painting “Saturn Devouring His Son.” Another Peep collaborator, Nedarb, sent a similar cryptic message that appears to reference “Falling Down,” saying he would “haunt” anyone who worked on his music after his death without having been permitted to when he was alive.
Later in Makonnen’s XXL interview, he mentions the role Peep and X’s mothers had in getting the song done. “I definitely think it was like the mothers’ wish. [X] had just been tragically taken away and Peep passed away as well. I think it’s something both the mothers have in common,” Makonnen says. “The mothers have the final say because these are their children at the end of the day.” However, in response to a fan’s concerns on Instagram, Lil Peep’s mother Liza Womack made a comment back in August claiming that releasing the song with X added to it was “Makonnen’s choice” and not hers. Since Columbia Records owns the rights to Peep’s unreleased music, it would make sense that Womack would not be able to prevent the song from getting out, though it’s unclear why Makonnen would infer that Womack was on board if she wasn’t. That being said, X’s mom Cleo posted a clip of the song to Instagram, which included a caption that read “from peep’s mom and I” with an emoji of a broken heart.
According to Genius, other people who were friendly and collaborated with Peep have come out in support of the song, including the producer Smokeasac and the rapper Fat Nick who assured fans on Twitter that Peep and XXX were planning to end their beef before Peep’s death. Makonnen defended his decision to put XXXTentacion on the song to XXL, saying, “If Lil Peep was alive, and me and Peep are friends, and I guess I can speak for Lil Peep since it’s our project together, I would say that we would be very open to talking with whoever and to making any sort of creative things happen.”
If there really is a riff between Peep’s friends regarding whether or not a song with XXXTentacion was something he would’ve wanted, one side has quieted down since the official release of “Falling Down.” The members of GothBoiClique who first spoke out against the song now seem to be walking back their original stances, with Lil Tracy deleting his critical tweet and Fish Narc saying in a since-deleted tweet responding to the Noisey report, “Noisey is quoting what I said in anger a month ago please leave me alone I have nothing new to offer this is bigger than me and my opinion is not worth much.” It’s unclear at the moment if these statements have been retracted out of some sort of intimidation, or if because Fish Narc and Lil Tracy no longer stand behind them. Representatives for Lil Peep did not respond to a request for comment, nor did any of the individual members of GothBoiClique; Makonnen referred Spin to his interview in XXL.
In any event, GothBoiClique is no longer openly denigrating the new record, and Peep’s fans continue to be divided on the issue: A subreddit devoted to GothBoiClique is abstaining from supporting the song entirely. For what it’s worth, X was openly remorseful over Peep’s death before his own passing, expressing regret that the two never buried the hatchet. “Like, if I would have known he was so cool and it’s like, yo, if I would have watched interviews sooner, bro, we were so alike,” XXXTentation can be heard saying on the new song. Posthumous albums from both rappers are currently being prepared, and “Falling Down” will likely appear on each one.