Editorial: Releasing Albums After The Artist Is Gone

DeAndre Washington, Arts & Entertainment Editor

My introduction to Mac’s music came around his 2010 breakout mixtape K.I.D.S. and since then I’d be glued to every project he’d release going forward. 10 years later, now in a new decade, the artist known for his questioning of life’s meaning has transitioned. 

Recently Mac Miller’s family made the decision to release his album Circles. An album that culminates where Swimming began to take direction. But this op-ed isn’t about Mac Miller; or the release of Circles. This is about how difficult it is to listen to an album being released after the artist is gone. 

For many of my generation this was one of the first posthumous albums to be released where we all got a chance to experience the artist in the prime of their work. To this day I haven’t been able to listen to his music the same. Before this turns into an op-ed about Miller’s work, I’d like to acknowledge the problems with releasing albums after the artist has moved on.

Albums reflect where the musician was during that time of their lives. There’s a direction that only that musician knows where to go with regards to an albums sound. Many times over we’ve seen artists have new music released after their transition; but what if that wasn’t what they wanted? 

I’ve always been frustrated about Aaliyah’s uncle given that he chose not to release her music past her death. Now that I’ve experienced enough to know what it feels like to lose an artist I love, I know how emotionally strenuous it must be not wanting what they’ve worked on to be released. 

To try to fill the void should not mean wanting something new. It should mean wanting to appreciate the music for what it was and not trying to churn out what can’t be done by the artist who made the album. I’ve come to realize the power in allowing the music to speak for itself, but that doesn’t mean the story can be done by just anyone with access to the music.

I love that this will be the final album by Mac Miller to be released. I think that it diminishes the artists intent for their own legacy to have music released without their knowledge.

I haven’t listened to the posthumous album, but that’s because I’m just not ready to hear his voice. Part of me wonders about what the process is like for selecting the songs on the album. Part of me questions if it’s even worth it to put out something without the artist here. 

I do realize at the end of the day an artist wants their story told properly. The significance of having a posthumous album be released is about their legacy. I only hope that those with consent to release them doesn’t do it for the sake of monetizing for personal gain. 

Instead, they’d do it because somewhere a fan misses hearing their hero’s voice.

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