Posthumously released albums

Sophie Mustert, Web Editor

As many of you know, several famous rappers have died within the past few years. Starting with Lil Peep back in November of 2017, then XXXtentacion in June of 2018. Mac Miller died shortly after X in September 2018, and the most recent, Juice Wrld in December 2019. Many of these artists were coveted, and their music was a mix of inspirational, controversial and experimental. 

The cause of these rapper’s death was a range from accidental drug overdoses to murder. 

Lil peep, Mac Miller and Juice Wrld all died from a drug overdose. XXXtentacion was assassinated before withdrawing money from a bank. He was shot in the neck during a brief struggle, and his Louis Vuitton bag was stolen. 

Even after these famous rappers’ deaths, music is released under their name. Record labels have unreleased recordings and songs by these artists and release them posthumously. There is controversy about this, is it ok? Are they using them to make more money? Is it inconsiderate for the grieving family? 

“Their legacy should be remembered and respected. I don’t like how they take throwaway verses and sell them to other artists, that isn’t right,” said Jack Shackelford ‘20.

Many students have different opinions about this, but it usually depends on the rapper and circumstances of the release. People usually agree that it’s ok if the family wanted it, or if they think that the rapper would want his music to be shared. But many rappers record songs that are throwaways, or they were not used because they were incomplete or unsatisfactory. But there are still many questions people have. For example, XXXtentacion had several recordings that were sold to other rappers without ever intending on releasing that recording. 

“Who said the artist wanted the music to be released? It might be private and there is never a way to know for sure,” said Natalie Duca ‘20.

This statement is true, just because their family wanted to release the music, how do we know it isn’t just for money? The money made obviously can’t go to the rapper directly, and there are several ways it can be used to help the community. 

“Where does the money go?” said Isabelle O’Connor ‘20, “there are issues with it, the money should go to the family and the record label shouldn’t keep it.”

With many of these rappers, their old recordings can be sold to other artists for a feature. They will make money from this after paying the record label. Mac Miller’s album “circles,” maybe a rarity in the music industry. His family released this album knowing that it was going to be released eventually if Miller was still alive. There will be Pop-up exhibitions celebrating his music and legacy, and all of the proceeds go to the Mac Miller fund. The Mac Miller fund has raised nearly 1 million in the past year, and they finance art programs for youth in underserved communities as well as provide support for artists with addictions. 

“I think the family made the right choice in releasing Mac Miller’s album,” said Jack Shackelford ‘20,  “he wanted the public to hear it. He started the album with the intention of release.” 

Taking these different perspectives in mind, it is clear that it depends on how the music is released and what the artist wanted. The family should be able to have a say in the final decision, the music means a lot to people whether it was released when they were alive or dead.