Posthumous Music from Late Artists

BY Elisha Brown

Contributing Writer

We’ve lost some of the greatest musicians of our time in the last couple of years. From musical legends like Aretha Franklin and Prince, to new influential artists such as Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, fans are eager to keep their spirit alive with posthumous music.

In previous years, Drake has released new music with late artists, such as R&B singer Aaliyah. On his new album, Scorpion, he used an unfinished track to release a song “featuring” Michael Jackson.

“Drake is known for sampling a lot of tracks. He uses influences from past artists to make who he is today, and I think it’s more of a tribute to different artists,” said graduate student, Trevor Thompson. “I think it’s more of a celebration. We listened to their music when they were alive and then as they’re deceased, and people still love them.”

Amy Winehouse, the British singer who passed in 2011, is expected to “perform” via hologram next year with a live band.

Shortly after her death, the Amy Winehouse foundation released Amy’s third album, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures.” The album featured unreleased music and demos, chosen by Winehouse’s family.

After rapper Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996, Tupac was still making money as if he were alive.

Tupac sold millions of records worldwide with the majority of those coming after his death. He has over 150 unreleased songs and seven out of eleven albums were released after his passing.

Michael Jackson has long been subject to this phenomenon. A year after his death, he made hundreds of millions of dollars from posthumous music.

Sophomore, Shannon Szenfinski, wasn’t aware of how widespread this phenomenon is, but was pleased to know how artists are kept alive in the hearts of their fans.

“I think that’s so cool, their memory is living on. I didn’t really know they did that. I think that’s so cool,” said Szenfinski.

This type of behavior isn’t reserved for the classic artists. Lil Peep and XXXTentacion both passed away in the last 24 months and a song that features both of them was released on their behalf. That track, “Falling Down,” was released in September.

Lil peep passed away from a drug overdose in Nov. 2017 and XXXTentacion was shot in June this year.

One of the writers of the song says he co-wrote it with Lil Peep, but after Lil Peep died, XXXTentacion added a couple of verses.

“Posthumous music is only cool if it’s in accordance with the artists’ wishes and is going to the people who they intend for their estate to go to. The money must be going to the people they intended, not executives or anybody else,” said graduate student Ibraheem Abedanjo.

“If they have it in their will that the music can be released, and they trust certain people to release their music, then it’s okay. If it’s records that they didn’t have any intention of releasing and someone wants to release it for a cash grab, I feel like that’s horrible.”

Even though it seems like some students are okay with music being released after an artist dies, there are a few people who would rather remember the artist for the legacy they created while they were living.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s good. I prefer if they just left it alone because the artist already established a career,” said graduate student Johnny Bledsoe. “Unless the quality of music is so good that people just have to hear it, but for the most part it’s not. It’s usually not their best work. So, I’d prefer if they didn’t.”

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