Disrespectful release of artists’ music after death dominates the modern music industry


John Mendelin, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Lil Peep and XXXTentacion were two chart-dominating rap artists who received untimely deaths in 2018, yet their new collaborative hit single ‘Falling Down’ hit charts Sept. 19. Regardless of one’s personal preferences regarding their music or their character, a posthumous release scheme is still a shady tactic used by record labels to continue profiting off an artist’s vault of unfinished work.  

This is common practice in modern music industry, with the public’s favorite musicians putting out new projects years after their death. Seemingly, Tupac Shakur has been on a steady release cycle since his 1996 murder, XXXTentacion has been staring in a series of music videos, and Michael Jackson released a full- length LP in 2014.

While it gives listeners something to cling to in wake of their passing, the releases after an artist’s death never feel authentic and lack a personal touch. It is invasive for producers to stick their hands in the library of unfinished work an artist has left behind, as there is no solid approval process. Shakur is no longer alive to put his stamp of approval on an album of his releasing in the 21st century.

Arguably, the most atrocious posthumous performance this year was that of Prince’s holographic feature at Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. According to Vox, Prince fans have not forgotten the artist’s last interactions with Timberlake where he directly insulted Prince in the lyrics of his song ‘Give it to me’ and mocked his height at the Golden Globes.

However, with the 2018 Super Bowl located in Prince’s home state of Minnesota, Timberlake felt it was his ‘duty’ to pay homage with a live duet from beyond the grave. Their rocky history is reason enough to not drag Prince’s name onto the headline of the performance, but Timberlake went through with stunt regardless.

No artist is proud to release everything they create, and when they are not alive to put finishing touches on music released under their name or approve of the artists they collaborate with, it is an ugly insult to their legend.