Posthumous Releases: Good or Bad?

India McCarty

It’s always heartbreaking when an artist you love passes away. You mourn the loss of someone who might have gotten you through hard times and made good times even better. You mourn the loss of great concerts. But mostly, you mourn the fact that there will be no more new music. 


However, that’s starting to change. 


There have always been releases of never-heard-before tracks and demos from heritage acts (think Tupac or David Bowie), but they’re not the only ones. Artists like Mac Miller, Pop Smoke, Juice WRLD and Lil Peep, who all passed away tragically young, have all put out albums and EPs after their deaths. 


Some fans love it. You get one last project – or two or three – from an artist you love. You get to hear the last thing they were working on, something they had every intention of putting out into the world. You don’t have to say goodbye just yet. 


Others are not so sure about the practice. Is it right for labels to continue to profit off of someone who died before their time? Would the artist even want this music to come out at all? 

Anderson .Paak went so far as to get a tattoo on his arm that reads, “When I’m gone, please don’t release any posthumous albums or songs with my name attached. Those were just demos and never intended to be heard by the public.” 


Lana Del Rey shared an image of .Paak’s tattoo with the caption, “It’s in my will but it’s also on his tattoo”. 


There’s no right or wrong answer because, like pretty much everything else in life, it depends on the situation. Miller’s Circles was going to be released anyway, with the approval of his family. Bowie’s Toy was a project he wanted to put out years ago, but lack of label enthusiasm meant it got shelved. 


On the other hand, Prince never intended for any of his vault songs to be released as is. Drake cancelled an album he had planned to make “with” Aaliyah, using unreleased songs and vocal fragments, after fans pointed out that he had never met the singer and that the concept felt distasteful. 


What do you think? Are posthumous releases a chance for artists to live on through their music, or a shameless cash grab from labels? Would you listen to an album that you know the artist didn’t want anyone to hear? Let us know in the comments!