Less than two months after the rapper's tragic death, Lil Peep's posthumous song Spotlight will be released on Friday, Jan. 12. The track is a collaboration with Marshmello, who revealed the project's cover art and release date in a tweet on Wednesday. This will be the late 21-year-old's first posthumous release since his untimely death on Nov. 15, after he reportedly failed to wake up from a pre-show nap, and it represents a bittersweet moment for fans of his work.
On the one hand, it will give the world an opportunity to hear more from a voice that was silenced too soon. Pitchfork referred to the late rapper as "the future of emo" in a January 2017 article, and he'd amassed many fans — celebrity and otherwise — on both Soundcloud and YouTube. But on the other hand, Lil Peep has never shied away from darker themes in his music. He's taken on suicide, drug use, and heartbreak in his lyrics, motifs that are likely to be present in this upcoming project as well. And while it's important for these topics to be part of the conversation, especially after an artist is lost at such a young age, it will undoubtedly be difficult to hear.
In fact, even Marshmello wasn't sure whether it would be appropriate to release the track in light of Lil Peep's tragic passing. When questioned on his motives by a Twitter user, the producer tweeted in response that he was releasing the song only after encouragement from the deceased's mother.
In the track art, a blurry Lil Peep stands shirtless before a black background, lit by a red glow. The movement of his head transforms his features into an illegible smear, and a smattering of tattoos are just visible. It's an eerie image of the late rapper, and its ghostly quality makes the tragedy of his passing all the more impossible to ignore.
The rapper had struggled openly with both drug use and depression in the months before his death, tweeting in February 2017 that he was "a depressed drug addict" who was "nearing [his] breaking point." And the toxicology report for the young man, born Gustav Ahr, ruled that his death was an accidental overdose on fentanyl and Xanax. TMZ reported that a cocktail of other drugs including marijuana, cocaine, painkillers, and Oxycodone were found in his system, and Lil Peep was no stranger to suicidal impulses. On Nov. 15, just hours before his death, he posted a photo to Instagram with the caption, "When I die You'll love me."
This has brought the topics of mental health and drug use to the forefront of many discussions about Lil Peep's tragic passing, although multiple people close to him insist that his death was not intentional. After his passing, Sarah Stennett, the CEO of First Access Entertainment, which partnered with Peep in 2016, told Bustle in a statement:
"I am shocked and heartbroken. I do not believe Peep wanted to die, this is so tragic. He had big goals and dreams for the future which he had shared with me, his team, his family and his friends. He was highly intelligent, hugely creative, massively charismatic, gentle and charming. He had huge ambition and his career was flourishing. I have spoken to his mother and she asked me to convey that she is very, very proud of him and everything he was able to achieve in his short life. She is truly grateful to the fans and the people who have supported and loved him."
These are the things that fans may keep in mind as they listen to his new music on Friday. And no matter the content of "Spotlight," it will be a welcome opportunity to hear more from a trailblazing voice in the music industry.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.