One of the dirtiest music-related words of all time has to be “posthumous.” Whenever we see this term attached to a press release, we are filled with equal parts optimism and pessimism. Too often, it’s like seeing the glass half full, only watch it get poured out completely, realize it’s actually gasoline, and then get lit on fire. It is, of course, foolish to question “WHY?!” these post-death albums come to fruition—money, duh—but somehow through all the bullshit, we still find ourselves hopeful for certain projects. Perhaps it’s because the few that have worked are actually pretty damn great albums in their own right, no matter the context.
We began thinking about those posthumous albums in the wake of increasing news related to J Dilla’s growing discography of from-the-vaults projects. And for the most part, it’s been like dealing with Two Face (yes, from the Batman series) as we listen to each “new” release from the late Detroit native.
Thankfully, everything looks to be improving for his estate. Longtime friend/collaborator Frank Nitt became the curator of Dilla’s catalog last December and the once-shelved MCA album will finally be released. In similar news, a long-in-the-works Jimi Hendrix album, People, Hell & Angels, is dropping soon while 2Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, has publicly stated that she wants her son’s entire catalog to be released.
With that, let’s take a look at the 12 best posthumous albums in no particular order. Note: This is an amended version of a list that ran earlier.