Friday, December 20, 2019

So I Watched Everybody's Everything...

This is my relationship with Lil Peep: he's the guy everybody asks me around the holidays, "hey, you're into rap.  Do you know Lil Peep?"  And I say, yeah a little.  I heard of him when he became too famous not to have heard of 'im, and I checked out two or three Youtube videos, and as you guys could probably predict, his stuff wasn't really my thing.  Then I didn't give him another thought, really, until he passed.

It's a weird (and obviously tragic) thing when a young, popular artist goes right at the peak of their success.  Would they have continued to flourish and cement a superstar legacy, or had we already seen their entire flash in the pan run its course?  Like, when you look at how The Wu-Tang Clan's Beautiful Tomorrow album completely fizzled out even after a huge onslaught of hype.  Biggie and Tupac went out at the very top, but if they hadn't, would they just be two more dull old school MCs unable to capture the attention of the millennial generation in 2019?  And before anybody runs up and smacks me for implying Lil Peep could be on the same level as The Wu, B.I.G. and 2Pac, my point is that he seemed to be for a sizeable number of fans, or at least just one or two more break-out tracks shy, and this got me curious.

Because sure, that sing-songy The Weeknd style has never appealed to me.  Shit, I remember even back when Domino dropped "Getto Jam" and I was like, "I don't like where this is going..."  But at the same time, I try not to be closed minded to a whole style or sub genre.  I remember when DWG was putting out Unique's Die Hard EP, and they said they were just leaving off the synth-y songs.  Sure, dusty old jazz loops are great, but synthesizers weren't born evil.  Hell, the Beverly Hills Cop theme is pure synth, and the only people who don't love that are dead inside.  And honestly with elite, I actually prefer something like "Homonym Holocaust" to "Don't Even Try It."  Sure, "Don't Even" has that classic K-Solo/ Penthouse Playas/ King Tee/ Poison Clan loop you can never go wrong with.  But I'll take Joey Robinson's "cheesy synths" over the After School, anti-drug message rap stuff.

So anyway, my point with all that is: even if it isn't my preferred style, I'm interested if this kid's got some thoughtful lyrics and something interesting to say.  I remember one of tiny handful of Peep songs I checked out ("Life Is Beautiful") being pretty compelling.  And now here comes this documentary, that sounds like a more engaging way to dive in and see for myself if I thought this was an artist who really had something going for him or if he was just the next in an infinite line of Kreayhawns, Mykko Montanas, and every other rapper the kids forgot about as quickly as they blew them up.

But, uh... this movie didn't really help.  It doesn't really explore his art at all, except to say that he started from very humble, low-fi beginnings and people seemed to like it.  But otherwise the doc doesn't seemed interested in his music, that just happens to be what propelled him into the rags-to-riches story they want to tell.  He could've just as well gotten famous manufacturing widgets for all this film seems to care.  There's a bit where one of his Gothboi Clique members said that when he heard Peep for the very first time, his opening bars were so on point, he knew he had to work with Peep.  And then... they don't play those bars!  I mean, come on, that would've been a perfect opportunity for a very quick soundbite to go a long way towards demonstrating what Peep could do.  I wanna hear those bars, but nope.

So, okay, moving on from what the movie isn't, what does the movie actually deliver?  Well, like I said, it's basically another typical rags-to-riches story that ultimately, of course, ends in tragedy.  I mean, if you swap out Peep for another musician we've lost, then you've already seen this movie a dozen times before.  It can get pretty hammy, as they dramatically read these sappy emails his grandfather wrote Peep like narration over half the film, and a lot of the interviews are pretty superficial.  Most people seemed like they just latched onto the fact that he was popular for some - any - reason and wanted to cash in.  There's a scene where one of his managers (or promoters or whoever) said they asked if he wanted to continue making videos or played stadiums, and when he replied that he wanted to play stadiums, that's when she realized that's when he was a real star.  What?  Ask any third grade class if they want to be rockstars and play stadiums, and two thirds of their hands will go up.  Wanting to play stadiums doesn't mean he could or couldn't do so successfully.  Apparently, Peep's next big move was going to be to start a clothing line?  You wouldn't know from this film if he was a beloved songwriter or just another Instagram Influencer.

But there are interesting moments.  His girlfriend has a refreshingly candid little insight into his relationship with his face tattoos and his family seems nice.  The filmmakers have some of his childhood home movies, and he sure was a cute kid.  You definitely feel bad for his mother and grandfather that they lost him so early.  At its best, Everybody's Everything is touching in a Dear Zachary-lite kind of way.  But that's about a third or a quarter of this film, and the rest just feels like a by-the-numbers E! True Hollywood Story that doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know about the guy... even if, as in my case, you didn't know all that much.  And I came in wanting to learn; I don't think you could've asked for a better audience than that.  I think even Peep's fan club will be looking down at their phones during most of the movie.  Terrence Malick produced this?  I expected more.

1 comment:

  1. Lil' Peep on Werner's site? 2019 is full of surprises.

    What's not surprising is Terrence Malick's involvement not resulting in a quality documentary. This is, after all, a man who hasn't made a good movie since 1978.