How Pete Wentz Ended Up on a Lil Peep and ILoveMakonnen Collab
"I saw Peep as a kindred spirit," he told us, when we called him about to talk about new track "I've Been Waiting."
Sampling everyone from The Postal Service to blink-182 in his music and citing bands like Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy as influences in tweets and interviews, Lil Peep was a true mid-00s emo kid—the only difference between him and the rest of us was that those bands noticed him too. When I interviewed him in mid-2017, we talked about our mutual love of Fall Out Boy: “they defined emo as a fuckin’ genre,” he told me, consistently enthusiastic about the music he loved. “Good Charlotte my biggest influence” he tweeted in June 2017, before following up in October, a month before he died, asking them to take him on tour.
His genuine talent, enthusiasm, and authenticity meant that these artists took notice of him while he was alive, but his untimely death meant that they never actually got to work together. The response to his death was bittersweet: Good Charlotte covered “Awful Things” at his memorial service, his icons tweeted their support for him, and now, he’s posthumously featured on a collaboration with Fall Out Boy on “I’ve Been Waiting – a pop track featuring iLoveMakonnen. Peep told XXL in May 2017 that “One of my favourite hip-hop artists is Makonnen. One of my favorite bands is Fall Out Boy. You put those two together and that’s Lil Peep.” iLoveMakonnen was working on a collab album with Lil Peep and one of its tracks was recently released to controversy: when Makonnen renamed “Sunlight On Your Skin” “Falling Down” and spliced vocals from XXXTentacion into it, the choice was criticized for going against Peep’s values.
“I’ve Been Waiting” is another Peep and Makonnen track, but reworked with the help of Fall Out Boy and featuring vocals from Patrick Stump. It’s a glossy, poppy song that shows signs of where Peep was heading as he grew as an artist. Wentz calls it “melodic and beautiful”, adding that “if you played this on an acoustic guitar it would be a sad, pretty song”; its sound is different to the rougher, more raw bedroom rap that Peep is known for, and it shows his potential. Deciding what to do with an artist’s work after they die, especially one so young, is very difficult. While no one can ever know for sure what Peep wanted, it’s clear how much he wanted to work with Fall Out Boy.
Pete Wentz has always been open in his love and respect for Lil Peep and unafraid to amplify the voices of hybrid artists who other veterans of the scene have shunned. Wentz was always on the front line of experimenting with combining emo with hip-hop and other genres, even having Jay-Z introduce Infinity on High and Kanye West remix “This Ain’t a Scene”. Peep was perfectly in line with Fall Out Boy’s vision and MO and them together is a dream team; “I’ve Been Waiting”—which you can listen to below—is a light, catchy emo pop track and it’s just a tragedy that Peep couldn’t have lived to see how influential he’d become.
I called Pete Wentz to talk about the track, how much he admired Lil Peep, and how is best to handle artists’ work when we tragically lose them.
Noisey: So Makonnen came to you with the idea of making this track, right?
Pete Wentz: Yeah. So Makonnen reached out, and I remember that me and you had talked about Peep so I had already thought about this a lot. Then Makonnen was like, 'I have this song,' and he sent me it. I didn’t really know exactly what to do before he sent it to me, but then he sent this quote where Peep had said like, “if I had to describe my sound it’d be half Makonnen and half Fall Out Boy.” That really just struck me.
Yeah, I know you’ve seen the transcript, but when I interviewed Peep a few months before he died he talked about Fall Out Boy a lot. He really loved the band.
That was so meaningful.
I thought you’d want to see it. So how long have you been working on the track?
We’ve been working on it for maybe six months, something like that? We started working on it and then it was really about finding a way—when you’re working with an artist who’s not there to speak for themselves, you’ve got to be really careful with that artist’s legacy. So really a lot of it was like, 'what is a way for us to fit into this song and do what Fall Out Boy would do, but do it in a way where we’re not altering the song itself?' It was a lot of subtle stuff, like changing the BPM.
With it being Peep and Fall Out Boy, though, I feel like it’s a fair guess to say it’s something he might have wanted.
It’s just so interesting. When I think about somebody like Peep, I think about him the same way I think about Tupac, where this person is in mid-bloom. They’re becoming something more, or different, and you have to trust that the people around them know what the vision was. No one really knows exactly what it was going to be, but you’ve just got to trust. I hope that the people around me and around our band would hopefully know enough about what our intentions were that they could keep doing something cool if something happened. I thought about it a lot, me and Patrick talked about it a lot.
There was a lot of controversy around Makonnen’s Peep and XXXTentacion posthumous collaboration.
Totally. I only knew Peep through other people and I talked to him on Instagram a couple of times. I was a fan of his music, and I am a fan, but I didn’t know him well enough. You have to try and be faithful to the artist’s vision because they are no longer there to speak for themselves. You have to use what they have, the archived material, and find a way to stay faithful. I think about it in that way where it feels like it was such a short amount of time that Peep was here, and he was very prolific in that time—but you want to honor the fans that want to hear what else he was working on.
I went to the listening party for his second album in October and his mom and friends were talking about how hard it was to decide to bring out that album at all, but also to decide how to do it right. They seemed to come to the conclusion that he didn’t care about anything more than making music and getting it out there, and it feels to me like it’d be an insult to that to hide it away?
You’ve got to be thoughtful about that, I think.
You’ve got to try and stay faithful to their music but also their values. A lot of the artists Peep admired loved him too, but there was just such a limited timespan to work together. Did you want to work with him?
I saw him as a kindred spirit. I saw the scene that he had come from and it reminded me so much of where I had, and his aspirations reminded me of the stuff that we had thought. I reached out to him through Instagram, and Spencer from Panic! who I work with went to his show in Florida. You can always look back on things and try to imagine them differently, but yeah, that was clearly somebody who was going to be and who is an influential person. Somebody that it would have been really interesting to have collaborated with at the time.
Yeah, I feel really lucky that I got to interview him and go to his shows because I really expected him to just become stratospherically famous and be here forever.
That’s what it seemed like. Totally.
It’s interesting because in some ways Peep is very different to you, but I feel like a lot of the alt rappers have a similar sensibility and approach to experimenting with genre as Fall Out Boy. You were always very open to collaborating with rappers and taking inspiration from other places, and I don’t think it’s dissimilar.
I think the melodic sense is not that different and I think the way especially Peep wore his heart on his sleeve and wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable, that’s all a shared experience. In those ways it really makes sense. There’s points where Peep and Makonnen and Patrick are all singing a hook in the song and I’m like, 'yeah, that all just makes sense together,' you know?
I remember when Peep came up, a lot of the purists were really mad about the mixing of emo and hip-hop, but I found it so exciting.
Yeah! And I think not only is it clearly groundbreaking and forward thinking, because I think genre matters less now than it ever did, but beyond that it’s more authentic. You are who you are, you know. And we’ve talked about this stuff before but it’s an authentic way to go through life when you’re like, “these are the things I like and this is what I want to write about and these are my influences” and I think that’s bold. I like that.
It really shows in the way that people responded to Peep’s authenticity, that it can pay off. It’s worth being honest and vulnerable. Did you always know it was the right thing to do this song or did you feel weird about it?
The first thing I thought about was, “what would I want if I was in a similar position.” What would I want? That was one of the first things I thought about, and then I thought, what would I want as a fan, knowing that you’re not going to hear any new music unless there’s a curated version of it? I think as long as you find people who are trying to be faithful to the artist, then that’s something that would be interesting. It’s something we thought about a lot.
From talking to you but also from reading what he said in other interviews about Fall Out Boy, it felt like it would be dismissive to not try something. It felt like it wouldn’t be true to Peep’s legacy or my distant interpretation of what that legacy is. The other thing I want to say is that we get offered features all the time. This one seemed like it was important. Do I think this is going to be a quote-unquote 'radio smash?' I don’t think so. If it is a smash, that’s great. But I don’t think so. I think it’s an interesting song that shows some of the melodies and some of the ideas of where it seemed like Peep was going, the stuff that he was writing. I feel like that’s interesting.
He grew so much so quickly. I’m glad you did this—it would have been a shame to have that opportunity and not do something with it, especially when you know how much he loved you. I really loved too when Good Charlotte covered “Awful Things.”
I saw that. This is just a small way that we can pay homage. This is a very small thing that we’re doing, but I think it’s important for someone who said these things and whose friends have said he was into Fall Out Boy. this is a very small thing we could do for him.
You can find Marianne on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.