Yesterday, iLoveMakonnen announced that a new song that he wrote with his late friend Lil Peep, “Falling Down,” would be released this morning. It’s widely known that Peep had hours of unreleased material that was either unfinished or awaiting release (some of which has already dropped). But there’s a distressing caveat to the news: the late XXXTentacion––with whom it was rumored that Peep had tension––is also featured on the track.
While “Falling Down” is getting its first official release today, it’s been around in other forms for a while. Originally a collaboration between Peep and Makonnen, “Falling Down” first leaked in December 2017 year under the name “Sunlight On Your Skin.” Based on the snippets of the track posted by Makonnen and X’s mother Cleo, it would appear that “Falling Down” is the same song with new verses by X––recorded after Peep’s death––subbed in for Makonnen’s parts.
Posthumous collaborations tend to be treated with a certain touchiness, and fairly so; it is incredibly hard to do right by an artist’s legacy when the artist isn’t around to guide the final product. “Falling Down” might be an example of posthumous collabs going wrong. Peep had both explicit and rumored beef with X and his close collaborators before his death––X’s friend Ski Mask The Slump God allegedly called Peep a “faggot”––and so it’s unlikely that this collaboration would have ever happened had he not passed away last November. When Makonnen first started posting about an X/Peep collaboration back in August, the track was strongly condemned by Peep’s friends and family. Peep’s fellow GothBoiClique member Fish Narc slammed the collaboration on Instagram, telling his followers that “Peep never heard the XXX feature.”
“[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,” he continued. “This shit is people trying to make money off him. He never would have signed up for that, he did not like XXXTentacion.”
On August 17, the day Makonnen posted a clip of the song to his Instagram, more members of GothBoiClique and friends of Peep expressed their dismay on Twitter as well. Nedarb, one of Peep's most frequent collaborators, started a string of tweets with a vague threat to "haunt" anyone who uses his work after he dies, before posting just the word "messy." GothBoiClique's official account offered two short messages on the subject: "trash" and "fuck you @columbiarecords." Wicca Phase, one of GBC's founders, expressed his thoughts a bit more obliquely captioning Goya's gory painting "Saturn Devouring His Son" with the phrase: "accurate depiction of the relationship between major labels and their artists."
Peep’s mother, Lisa Womack, also expressed disapproval towards the release, saying that “It was Makonnen’s choice” when asked by a fan why the collaboration was being put together. According to Variety, Columbia Records has acquired the rights to Peep’s unreleased material, which would explain why Womack seems to have little control over the handling of the release.
When news first broke of the release, Peep’s fans were also vehemently against supporting the song. “Out of respect to Peep/GBC and in defiance of Columbia Records we've decided that it is simply inappropriate and unethical for us to allow posting of the coming release and support of this song,” wrote a moderator of the Goth Boi Clique subreddit. The thread received 175 replies, many in strong support of the subreddit’s boycott.
It was tragedy enough that Peep had to die so young; that his unreleased material is being pillaged for a cheap novelty like “Falling Down” adds insult to injury. While the song is obviously designed to appeal to the mass of casual listeners who were fans of both artists, to fans of Peep it feels like a kick in the teeth. It seems supremely unlikely that the openly bisexual Peep would have been OK with collaborating with someone who was unapologetic about violently beating his gay cellmate in prison.
“Falling Down” is supposedly the lead single from a new album of unreleased Lil Peep material to be released on Columbia later this year. Fans have clamored for a taste of the music Peep left behind after his death, but it doesn’t feel right that we should have to experience it colored by a song that probably shouldn’t exist. A question still remains as to whether fans will end up embracing the track; but if—as his friends and family suspect—Peep wouldn’t have wanted it, why should we?
Shaad D'Souza is Noisey's Australia & New Zealand editor. Follow him on Twitter.