“Ain’t shit changed since Lil Peep died,” rapped Denzel Curry.
For many, the death of Lil Peep was seemingly a wake-up call. Amid many high profile deaths, many rappers have publicly declared that they will leave drugs behind them. At least, that is what they want their fanbases to think.
Much like XXXtentacion, Lil Peep’s music was filled with talk of codependency and suicidal ideation. It’s speculated that much of his songs were about a particular on-again, off-again relationship. Peep would often talk about his tumultuous relationships.Peep’s music exuded emo-pop sensibilities. His confessional style, post-punk artsy aesthetic spoke to millions, leaving behind a legion of fans. Whether perhaps buying too much into the rockstar persona, or having a rough bout of anxiety — he had before becoming famous — Peep would often use drugs to get through his shows.
Eerily Lil Peep seemingly predicted his own death. On the ghostly “The Way I See Things,” he starts off the song by declaring, “I got a feelin’ that I’m not gonna be here for next year.” A prescient moment.
Lil Peep (born Gustav Elijah Åhr), was found dead in his tour bus November 15, 2017. The cause according to the autopsy was an overdose of a combination of drugs, with a particularly deadly mix of fentanyl and Xanax.
So what can we learn from this tragic death? How does hip hop help its troubled souls dealing with addiction? The goal of this article is to better understand addiction and clarify misconceptions.
In Anthony Kiedis’ seminal memoir, Scar Tissue, he opens up about his feelings of the death of Hillel Slovak amidst a terrible heroin addiction. He had every rational reason to leave his addiction at the door at that point, and yet it beguiled him.
While much has been made about Lil Peep’s death — his addiction struggles were something personal to him. Seeing Peep die is no more of a deterrent than the failed “Just Say No” campaign.
The Accidental Overdose
The tragic nature of the deaths of both Lil Peep and Mac Miller, is that they are both artists who still had so much artistic input left to give. They were artists who had touched their respective fanbases in a deep way.
For Mac, a lot of his fans grew up watching him grow up from the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rapper on the charts to the serious abstract artist whose work looked to challenge the genre. His death was completely unexpected.
Both the deaths of Mac Miller and Lil Peep were linked to traces of fentanyl. What makes fentanyl so pernicious is that it is odourless, tasteless, and non-visible if mixed with other drugs, according to Ottawa Public Health.
Those who are considering still using drugs despite the risks, then should be encouraged to use drug-testing kits. Most recorded overdoses in the last couple years are linked with other drugs cut with fentanyl.
Here is a figure of Overdose Deaths in the United States alone.
Most recently, we lost the young rapper Juice Wrld. He experienced seizures as a result of his lean consumption. The opioid epidemic has hit Canada and the United States in a grave manner.
Source: Government of Canada, InfoBase
Check on Your Strong Friends
To many, Mac Miller seemed in a better place. It left a lot of people questioning the circumstances around his death.
Directly speaking, addiction is a mental health struggle. Speaking with The Freeze, is Sudbury rap artist Mickey O’brien, about what we can do to improve education on drug addiction and mental health.
“People have to watch out. Someone could be in the best mood around you all the time, you think they’re fine [but] they want to kill themselves,” says O’Brien.
When asked about picking up on cues. “Isolating [oneself], depression, and sleeping in all day,” are all signs O’Brien mentions.
This was the theme for Royce da 5’9’s “Strong Friend,” which explains how you never know who might have inner demons.
Measures need to be taken to reduce harm for those suffering addiction. Addiction is a disease and can affect anyone.
If you know a friend or family member – anyone in your inner circle who has had battles with addiction, checking in with them can be a lifesaving measure.
Fentanyl and other opioid-related drugs are causing a drug crisis, that in turn takes a toll on our respective health care systems.
Often, addiction can be an attempt to self-medicate. Relationships can be huge triggers for some people. More needs to be done to address the mental health concerns that lead many people to turn to opioids.
Below is video done by VICE, on the effects of lean and why some are choosing it as a form of escape.
Face Tattoos and Using Drugs to Numb Yourself
Until we see a real sustained effort made by our governments to actively mitigate the perils of drug addiction, we will see a lot more people die. Let these artists be reminders of the talent, empathy, and creativity lost in that battle.