ATLANTA • A few weeks before he was shot and killed last month, 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion was on the phone with a record executive who had taken the first chance on him, hammering out a contract for his next release.
Since making the news last year, he had become one of rap's biggest and most controversial new stars, with a No. 1 album.
At the same time, allegations of abuse had made him a potentially toxic business partner.
Yet that had not stopped independent music company Empire from releasing his first album, 17, last summer.
The latest deal, for XXXTentacion's third official release, was worth about US$10 million (S$13.6 million), according to sources.
Mr Ghazi Shami, founder of Empire, said the rapper - who was shot during a robbery - had finished "a significant amount of material" for the new record, but there were no firm plans for its release.
Because of a clause in his last record contract with a distribution unit of the giant Universal Music Group, the record may not be released until at least October, despite typical industry pressure to strike while the late rapper's name is still in headlines.
Since his death on June 18, XXXTentacion's weekly streams have quadrupled, sending both his albums back into the top five and earning him a posthumous No. 1 single, for Sad!.