Posthumous Music: The Creation of Artist Nostalgia

Recorded music has the power to keep an artists alive, even after they’ve left this earth. For some artists, albums released posthumous (following death) are some of their best work, *cue “Mo Money Mo Problems*.

With the death of Lil Peep and the immediate release of now multiple tracks associated with the 21-year-old rapper, like “Spotlight“, it’s curious who actually benefits from the release – Marshmello, Lil Peep’s estate, or just the fans. The track discusses depression surrounding missing a relationship and the deceit that ensued; so curiously I wonder if this heartbreak Lil Peep wrote the song on, contributed to his drug use.

While most rapper’s deaths occur personally unplanned, Lil Peep’s overdose rattled the hip hop community and deepened the conversation against drug abuse, similarly as the murders of Big Pun, Biggie, Tupac and so many others did throughout the turn of the century. All of these rappers were somewhat immortalized after their posthumous music was released. For instance, Biggie’s Life After Death, is considered his best work, or how Yeeeah Baby (Big Pun) is in constant argument if the work is better than his LP Capital Punishment – one of the greatest albums in hip hop history.

But are these albums greater because of the rapper’s death, or is the death more monumental because as fans we know that the single event defines the future, meaning we’ll never get new music again?

When Lil Peep died shortly before Christmas, his death not only sparked debate but gave the young rapper a higher stream count temporarily because we were all curious what kind of music this face tattoo’d artist made. As the mainstream media (CNN, etc.) covered his death, parents and non-fans alike became curious. His overall discography promotes drugs and sex through a depressive filter, unlike Biggie’s Life After Death which showed no intention dying, except for the exit track, “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You). Biggies spits, “I told y’all, death controls y’all”, and as an audience it’s entirely correct. We’re enthralled with life-altering events that aren’t our own, and create opinions based on said events, such as who our favorite artist is.

Death of a rapper is merely a milestone in their discography, and isn’t a defining factor to their music. For Lil Peep, Big Pun or even Biggie, their untimely death has placed an untouchable filter on their career, leaving each artist at the height of a career. Ultimately popularity turns into nostalgia of a time in hip hop history that defined specific rap styles. Is this an end to mumble-drug-rap?

(Image Courtesy: YouTube)

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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