Now Streaming: “Everybody’s Everything” a poignant portrait that still leaves questions


Whether it intended to or not, the documentary “Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything” ends up shedding light on new music scene developments, and raising unsettling questions about the late rapper.

Probably one of the greatest contributions that Lil Peep gave to modern music was an extreme ability to blend genres. As seen in the film, “Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything,” there was a great deal going on in the young performer’s life. His mix of emo and rap, or his use of alternative r&b, trap music, and other less frequently heard forms made him popular with people who wanted songs that were real, contemporary and not like everything else.

“Everybody’s Everything”: unanswered unsettling questions

Watching “Everybody’s Everything” viewers get a sense that Lil Peep (born Gustav Elijah Ahr) was subject to some mistreatment by his father. In one sense, it is understandable that the family might want to keep the details of the abuse (?) secret, as Lil Peep did not detail it while he was alive. However, because it was alluded multiple times throughout the film, audiences couldn’t help but wonder what happened.

Significant narration in the film is done by Lil Peep’s grandfather is historian John Womack, Jr. His remembrances of his grandson are at once startling in their imagistic and emotional clarity, and sometimes funny. He recalls that Lil Peep (or Gus, as he referred to the late rapper) might have been scarred by his father. This narration is accompanied by onscreen home video footage, showing the rapper as a baby, toddler and little boy. He is filmed and held by his father, and so the insinuation that something bad happened between the two, is sad. Womack also recalls things like Gus’ walk. He begins to laugh as he tried to describe it. The onscreen images does the work for him. Footage of his walk as a small child are juxtaposed with his onstage walk, and viewers can see that it is the same ambulation. At this point in the documentary, Lil Peep has died, and so the comparison of him as a child with him as an adult is poignant. There was something child-like that remained with him. Maybe that is was drew hordes of young people to him.

Lil Peep was the darling of fashion designers and was featured in magazines. This was after his music put him on the cutting edge of contemporary music. His song “Beamer Boy” seemingly drove crowds crazy. Other talented and very young musicians clamored to work with him, and almost everyone else just wanted to hang out with him.

After Lil Peep’s death, his friends and co-collaborators seemed to turn on each other. They seemed to need for someone to be responsible for the rapper’s fentanyl overdose. Perhaps it was a natural reaction to grief. The responses can make viewers uncomfortable. And maybe that is why it is important to watch “Everybody’s Everything.” It is a portrait of fame, of a young man in pain, and an industry and culture that loves the next new face, even if they do not understand who he is.

“Everybody’s Everything” is essential viewing for anyone interested in contemporary music culture, regardless of what music genres he or she is drawn to. The film humanizes Lil Peep beyond the headlines, and shows the world why Gus is so badly missed by those who really knew him.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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