Last week, in an article titled “Christian Hip-Hop Pushes Emo Rap to a Positive Narrative” we broke down Emo Rap’s significance on Christian rap. Specifically, we used XXXTentacion and Lil Peep to compare with Kid Tris and Mogli the Iceburg. Peep and X passed away, and their fan base felt the pain of seeing one of their heroes die. The scab was ripped again when X’s Skins album released on December 7th. This pain was also felt by these two Christian rappers. We asked both of them questions about who their music is often compared to – XXXTentacion for Kid Tris and Lil Peep for Mogli the Iceburg.

Mogli the Iceburg

Mogli the Iceburg

How does/did Lil Peep inspire you and how did his death affect you?

I first discovered Peep back in 2017, not long after the release of his Hellboy mixtape. To be honest, I initially lumped him into the same category of all the other SoundCloud rappers like Pump and Uzi just off the name and image. But when I listened to the music I saw a lot more similarity to punk and grunge than anything in rap. There was kinda an ‘A HA!’ moment for me when I just processed everything and came to the conclusion that there are no rules left in hip-hop. It’s loosely defined by a vocal style still. At this point, it feels more defined by a culture and a spirit of creativity and breaking rules.

Seeing him die so early was really tragic, particularly because it seemed so predictable. Like, part of Peep’s draw with his brand was this lifestyle and aesthetic of EXTREME self-deprecation. So it sorta felt like everybody was willing to watch him kill himself with the drugs and depression and everything as long as they stayed entertained. I think that is extremely sad.

What about his sound appeals to you and made you want to experiment in that lane?

I think that the biggest initial appeal for me was seeing so much of the music that influenced me being reformatted into hip hop. For as long as I’ve made music, I’ve been searching for the balance of blending my influences together into a way that was NEW. Back as far as DREVMCVTCHR and earlier you can hear me experimenting with rock on tracks like “Run for Cover” or “Come Back Home.” The difference from then and now is that I still made music from this constraint of ‘I’m a rapper so I have to rap’. Or I felt like if I sang a whole hook I’d have to make up for it by rapping really traditionally on a verse. So seeing Peep grow and succeed gave me the confidence to just make whatever I wanted to, without obligation to what any genre might put on me.

Do you think any comparisons you get are fair?

I have no problem with people comparing me to artists I’m influenced by. I also realize what I’m doing has a lesser known niche than what most people realize. So I think some of the comparisons aren’t super accurate. Kinda like when Drake first came out, it was so groundbreaking for a while, any rapper that also sang got compared to him. So right now if people hear angsty or punk vocals over rap drums they’re like ‘THIS SOUNDS LIKE PEEP’, and naturally some people are also very defensive of that lane because of his passing.

What are you doing that makes you different from Peep?

The biggest difference is undeniably the content. I always bring what I feel is the most authentic reflection of my emotions into my music, as well as the most honest introspection I’m capable of. A lot of the whole emo-rap lane right now is surprisingly content shallow. Tons of drugs, tons of meaningless sex, and cliche rap themes. I’m really trying to go deeper with the sound. Stylistically, I think ‘Let’s Talk About Our Feelings’ is a bit more dynamic than what Peep does as a whole. More songwriting, more technicality in the rapping elements, less inebriation, more vocal edge with the full and half screams.

Do you think you’ll be able to bring Peep fans over with your message?

My goal with this album was creating a project full of authentic, relatable emotion. I wanted to give a new generation the same connection I had with bands like Yellowcard and Linkin Park. Naturally, I don’t think many kids are genuinely identifying with songs about cocaine abuse and reckless sex as much as they might about more realistic relationships and scenarios. So my hope with all of this is that people can relate to the music deeply and emotionally without being pointed towards drugs and self-destructive tendencies.

What would you say to Christians who don’t believe Christian artists should make sad music?

I’d tell them to read Psalm 88 sometime. Realistically, I get what some people mean by that sentiment, but I don’t feel the obligation to make anything but honest music. So then its like, the critique is less about the music and more about ME. Like, here is X, Y, and Z reasons why I’m not as spiritually healthy as I could be. I’m writing songs about my journey through those things. If you want more joyful music, pray for me as a human, and I’ll make the joyful music when I’m genuinely joyful. But I don’t think that there is any honor in claiming to be authentic, while also creating a public facade of having it all together. Music like that doesn’t do much for people that are really going through it either.

Kid Tris

Kid Tris

How does/did XXXtentacion inspire you and how did his death affect you?

X inspired me to just believe in who I am and my art, no matter what energy people try bringing into my life. What hurt me the most about his death was that I never got the chance to speak to him about Jesus. I’ll never know if anyone tried to plant that seed in him that could’ve brought him closer to something that is filled with joy, purpose, and true love.

What about his sound appeals to you and made you want to experiment in that lane?

Just the way he uses his vocals on the beat was truly amazing to me. I loved how raw the emotion could be felt through his music. It was also fascinating to me how he would play with the beats to find the right appealing frequencies and the sound that was out of the norm. Besides worship music, X’s music was honestly the only music I could really connect to on a deep level.

To be honest, I never saw myself in this lane/genre of music. It was all unexpected. I remember being home one day and I suddenly felt my depression coming back. It was a terrible feeling for me because I was still a baby in my walk with God and I didn’t think that it could be happening to me. I cried out to God and asked Him why I was feeling that way. The response that God gave me was, ‘Tell me how you are feeling’. That’s when ‘I need you, I fall to my knees’ was made. From there, God just kept using me in ways I thought would never happen.

Do you think any comparisons you get are fair?

The music I create and the person that I am wasn’t planned out to be like anyone else. So I feel like these comparisons aren’t fair. In reality, when I make my music I don’t tell myself ‘Oh, let me sound like this dude’. Everything I’ve done musically has been spontaneous and all has been with God’s hands guiding me.

What are you doing that makes you different from XXX?

At the end of the day, I’m doing this for God and my love for music and the people. What I feel makes me different, is that my music is filled with purpose. With that purpose is a mission. The mission is for people to finally realize that there is freedom in having a relationship with God. This walk with God can be filled with amazing moments. It can be uplifting. It can be fun, the music can sound like the new wave, and it’s not all about religion.

Do you think you’ll be able to bring XXX fans over with your message?

Of course! It won’t be me, but I know God will do that for sure. I am just the vessel that God can use to speak to this generation.

What would you say to Christians who don’t believe Christian artists should make sad music?

I’d straight up tell them they’re wrong. As Christians, we are called out to be the light of the world. How are we going to be that light when we can’t even tell our testimony to the people, of what God has done in our lives?

Both of these artists are taking Emo Rap to a place it’s never gone before. By adding their Christ-inspired lyrics to an otherwise one-sided genre of music, they are breaking ground. Kid Tris and Mogli are just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). Let’s see who else was inspired by XXXtentacion, Lil Peep, or Lil Uzi, 21 Savage, Post Malone and the like. Also, check out our article on the importance of mental health in Christian hip-hop.