Lil Peep enjoyed a devoted following on SoundCloud and YouTube during his lifetime, but he was not the type of artist whose music was beamed out to millions over the radio. That all changed with “Falling Down,” a posthumously released collaboration with XXXTentacion. This single was not just a radio hit — over 3,000 spins to date in the Alternative format, according to the data company BuzzAngle — it was also a rare multi-format hit, receiving numerous plays on rhythmic and Top 40 stations.
This trend seems likely to continue with the new single “I’ve Been Waiting,” a breezy track that the rapper iLoveMakonnen made with Lil Peep before the singer’s death that now incorporates vocals from Fall Out Boy. It’s one of roughly 20 songs Makonnen and Lil Peep worked on together in 2017. One of those was “Falling Down” — you can hear the original Makonnen version, titled “Sunlight on Your Skin” before the addition of XXXTentacion vocals, on Lil Peep’s Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2. Makonnen estimates that “10 or 12” other joint songs are finished and ready to be bundled into a larger project.
Makonnen brought a demo of “I’ve Been Waiting” to sessions with Lil Peep in Los Angeles in July 2017. “It was just my one-take draft,” the rapper tells Rolling Stone. “That’s how I do songs: Come into the studio, make the main elements of the beat, one-take an idea, hook-verse-hook-verse and maybe bridge. I played [Lil Peep] the idea, and he really liked it and gravitated towards this one the most out of all the other ones.”
The “I’ve Been Waiting” instrumental is jaunty and carefree, full of light strumming and spine-stiffening bass. But the lyrics are far more somber, veering between obsessive and masochistic: “Fuck me up and make me just go crazy/Addicted to the pain that you just made me love,” Makonnen sings. The addition of bombastic vocals from Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump pushes this contrast into overdrive — while Lil Peep is droning on about heartbreak, Stump croons pulpy lines like, “my hair just went oblivion” and vivid falsetto backing vocals erupt cheerfully behind him.
That contrast was already present in the Makonnen demo, and it was what initially caught Lil Peep’s ears. “What [Lil Peep] told me he liked about my style is the way I can make sad sound happy,” Makonnen recalls. “He said he makes sad just sound sad and feel sad, but this is good because I’m able to be happy at a sad time.”
After working together in L.A., Makonnen and Lil Peep decamped for London to continue their work. “We talked about a lot of things — who inspired us, who would be some of our dream collaborations,” Makonnen says. “We finished up the album there. We got back to L.A. and he went on tour. I was in Oregon for a while.”
Lil Peep died in November 2017; his death was later ruled an accidental overdose. “Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy reached out to me sending his condolences,” Makonnen remembers. (The two worked together previously on the Make America Psycho Again remix album in 2015.) “He said, ‘if there’s anything you ever need, let me know.’ I was telling him me and Peep were both big fans, and Peep told me Fall Out Boy is one of his musical heroes, and how his style was between iLoveMakonnen and Fall Out Boy, so it would be an honor if they could do one of the records we have for the album. They were very keen on being a part of it.”
Makonnen decided “I’ve Been Waiting” was best suited for a Fall Out Boy contribution. “I felt that this would be one that they could excel on and it would really complement our styles on,” he says.
He also solicited help on the track’s high-gloss production from several Top 40 masterminds. At a certain point, there was “as much summer-iness as iLoveMakonnen can bring,” the rapper says. “It’s like, this is a direction I’d love to go in, guys, but I need help. A lot of great talent came together to give it that full-on feeling.” That talent includes Brian Lee, who has credits on hits like Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” (two billion views) and Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (Number One on the Hot 100), and Louis Bell, who helped craft Halsey’s recent Number One “Without Me.” IIVI and Brenton Duvall are also credited as co-producers.
With that kind of firepower, it’s no surprise that “I’ve Been Waiting” “sounds like a radio song.” “It’s like, iLoveMakonnen and Lil Peep don’t really make radio songs,” the rapper says. “But this one sounds like we aced it.”