Five Posthumous Rap Albums Up For Debate

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Recently, and with a certain amount of controversy, Rap-A-Lot made available a bundle of previously unreleased songs disguised as a new Pimp C album.

Posthumous records are unsafe footing. It's entirely capable that they can be built into capable, glorious, heartbreaking goodbyes; in 2009, Bun B accomplished this with UGK's heralded UGK 4 Life. But just as likely come the slippery ones, the ones that smell bad and digest worse. Tupac died in 1996, but has released eight albums since 1997.

A proper review of Pimp's album is forthcoming. In the meantime, five posthumous records that are up for discussion:

Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death (1997)

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This one presents some issues. See, technically, this is a posthumous album - Biggie died on March 9, 1997, and the album was released less than two weeks later. But the proximity of the dates makes the discussion tacky. LAD is either (a) not a posthumous album because, sure, it was released after his death, but it was almost certainly all the way finished, which means it was meant while he was still alive, which means it's not really posthumous; or b) extremely exploitative, an album released when the shock of loss was still extra high, thus almost guaranteeing high album sales. Choice is yours. Either way, it's still a seminal piece of work.

J-Dilla, The Shining (2006)

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J-Dilla had four albums that came posthumously; this was the first. This one was successful for meritocratic reasons, but it was also successful because of a perfectly unfortunate three-part coincidence.

First, for the bulk of his career, Dilla was underappreciated. Second, to that point in time, Dilla had gone nearly five years without releasing a proper solo album. People were excited for it. Third, he passed before it was finished. As such, people fell over themselves to champion him and his product (a completely natural response). His perceived talent saw an exponential spike.

So many people began talking about how underrated he was that he became overrated. That's the dirty little J-Dilla secret people don't want to acknowledge. People will argue J-Dilla's greatness to the death. But the number of people doing so in 1995 was drastically smaller. Dying doesn't make your music better, but it sure as shit buffs your legacy some.

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Celebrating the culture of death.  I think I'm on to something.  Paging Dr. Freud!

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