By: Jacob Himmelhoch
Earlier this fall, a surprise collaboration between contemporary rap icons Lil Peep and XXXTentacion entitled “Falling Down” was released. The song was met with controversy for a number of reasons. For one, the release is posthumous as both artists died tragic deaths this past year. For another, while both artists were pioneers of the same wave of emo-infused trap music, their moral values could not have been more different.
Despite their aesthetic and topical similarities, the two rappers left behind legacies almost oppositional to one another. Peep was a voice for the depressed and addicted, his music an unrepressed materialization of pain that spoke to millions around the globe. He was openly bisexual, and outspokenly disgusted by domestic abuse present within the rap industry. Ironically, this is what his “collaborator” is most known for. XXXTentacion, while similarly renowned for his unrelenting commentaries on depression, had a dark shadow behind his music. Rather than addiction, XXX’s depression manifested into gruesome accounts of domestic abuse. In fact, the “Free X” movement that kindled his fame was a response to the jail time XXX was serving for brutally assaulting his pregnant girlfriend. But it doesn’t end there. Domestic abuse is just one of the many reprehensible aspects of XXX’s legacy along with his anti-feminist stances and belligerent homophobia. In his notorious ‘No Jumper’ interview, he barbarically recounted the time he beat his homosexual cellmate (who he referred to exclusively through homophobic slurs) to near death, only to be stopped by a reluctant guard. After his description, he showed no remorse for his actions not only in the interview, but for the rest of his career.
How does someone with a history like XXXTentacion end up on a song with Lil Peep, a bisexual artist who, according to Peep’s GothBoiClique collaborators, never liked X in the first place? The answer is simple. In the eyes of labels, and sometimes even other artists, a dead musician is nothing more than a piggy-bank. Posthumous content abuse is something we’ve seen happen to many beloved, deceased musicians.
Kurt Cobain, Prince, and Michael Jackson especially have suffered posthumous releases, and many more have had content released by their labels or peers once their voice is gone.“Falling Down”, is proof labels are more concerned with profit margins than maintaining an artist’s legacy. But one aspect of this collaboration separates it from the typical posthumous cash grab: it was never supposed to exist in the first place. Lil Peep collaborator ILoveMakonnen revealed the backstory to this sick post-mortem puppet show in an interview with XXL Magazine. Peep’s verse on “Falling Down” was recorded for a collaboration between him and Makonnen, left unfinished in his passing. XXXTentacion later heard a snippet on YouTube, and contacted Makonnen asking to collaborate. “Falling Down” is the result.
One might say, “XXXTentacion reached out to work with Peep? Isn’t that progress? He was showing growth by wanting to collaborate with a queer artist!” But Peep was never involved. According to GothBoiClique members on social media following the release, Peep never would have consented. It wasn’t until Peep had no voice in the situation that X intervened. “Falling Down” is worse than the average posthumous cash grab. It is a stain on Peep’s name. It is a morally void attempt for XXXTentacion to attach his name to an artist that rejected him — an artist that would make him look better.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-arts/regarding-falling-down/.