The 15 Best Posthumous Albums Ever Released
Let's talk about the best posthumous albums ever released. The posthumous album is a unique way to honor an artist's legacy – and it can offer fans the opportunity to hear unreleased material, collaborate with past artists, and gain new insight into beloved musicians. Regardless of whether you're looking for hip-hop or rock and roll, there are some outstanding posthumous albums that have been released over the years, sharing works by some legendary names in music history.
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Lo and behold, here is our list:
15. Bankroll Fresh - 'In Bank We Trust' (2020)
Image credit: Street Money Worldwide
The late Bankroll Fresh was one of the hottest underground talents to emerge from Atlanta's vibrant hip-hop scene in the early 2010s. His infectious, Southern trap sound quickly made waves in the industry and charmed audiences across the world. After his tragic passing in 2016, his legacy remained alive through compilations and tribute albums – until recently when his first posthumous album In Bank We Trust was released to much fanfare.
14. Lil Peep - 'Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2' (2018)
Image credit: Lil Peep / Columbia Records
Six months after his untimely death in 2017, Lil Peep was able to leave behind a lasting mark on music history with the release of his posthumous album Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2. This emotionally charged piece of art quickly became an icon among hip-hop and emo fans alike, captivating listeners across the world with its complex lyrics and surprising production choices. After receiving critical acclaim for being one of the year's best posthumous releases, it is no wonder why this album has stood not only as Lil Peep’s highest-charting LP but also as one of the most important pieces in modern music today.
13. Eazy-E - 'Str8 off tha Street of Muthaphukkin Compton' (1996)
Image credit: Ruthless Records
It’s 1996 and Eazy-E is taking the West Coast by storm with his iconic album Str8 off tha Street of Muthaphukkin Compton. Released as his third and final solo album, it comes as no surprise that this project cemented the rapper’s legacy in music history. Fusing elements from gangsta rap to lighthearted stories about street life, Eazy crafted a timeless classic and created multiple hits including “Still Talkin'” and “Say Please.” If you're a fan of hip hop music then you definitely should not miss out on this classic masterpiece!
12. Janis Joplin - 'Pearl' (1971)
Image credit: Sony Music Entertainment
When it comes to the blues, there are few who have taken their place in music history quite like Janis Joplin. Her unique and powerful style of singing has made her one of the most beloved artists, even though she was gone far too soon. Released posthumously in 1971, Pearl is an album that truly captures the artist’s spirit and showcases her raw talent—redefining what a posthumous release can be and setting a benchmark for all those after it.
11. Otis Redding - 'The Dock of the Bay' (1968)
Image credit: Atlantic Recording Corporation
The vibrant and emotive music of Otis Redding has endured for generations. His electrifying songs continue to inspire music fans around the world, which is not surprising considering his short but prolific career. Arguably one of Redding's most iconic works came posthumously - The Dock Of The Bay, released in 1968, months after he tragically passed away in a plane crash aged just 26 years old. In the 50-plus years since its release, The Dock Of The Bay has become an essential part of people's lives. Did we mention it's the first number one posthumous album in US?
10. Nirvana - 'MTV Unplugged in New York' (1994)
Image credit: Geffen / UMG
For any true fan of the 1990s grunge music scene, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York is an album that not only stands out for its musical brilliance but also serves as a reminder of the tragedy surrounding Kurt Cobain’s death. Comprised mainly of acoustic versions of classic Nirvana songs alongside heartfelt covers and some stunning new material, this album will take you on a journey through the brokenhearted genius and unique vision of Kurt Cobain in all its heartbreaking beauty.
9. George Harrison - 'Brainwashed' (2002)
Image credit: Umlaut Corp
If you’re a fan of the music of George Harrison, then Brainwashed is an album that cannot be overlooked. Released in 2002 – one year after Harrison’s untimely death of cancer at 58-years-old – Brainwashed was not only the last solo work from one of The Beatles, it was also one deserving its status as his best overall single release in years. Composed over several month periods before and during Harrison’s illness and produced by son Dhani Harrison, it offers a poignant final story with endearing compositions reflective on his life and experiences.
8. Jimi Hendrix - 'First Rays of the New Rising Sun' (1997)
Image credit: Experience Hendrix / Sony Music Entertainment
The posthumous album First Rays of the New Rising Sun by late rock and roll pioneer Jimi Hendrix is often overlooked in comparison to his more popular releases like Electric Ladyland and Are You Experienced?. However, this lesser-known masterpiece deserves a place among the best albums created by rock legends. The album features an impressive mix of tracks that showcase both Hendrix’s iconic electric guitar riffs and his innovative music production techniques. From hard-hitting blues-inspired rhythms to melodic folk numbers accompanied by thoughtful lyrics, this album has something for every music fan.
7. The Doors - 'An American Prayer' (1978)
Image credit: Elektra Entertainment
Released posthumously in 1978 after the death of lead singer Jim Morrison in 1971, this remarkable LP captures the vibrancy and unbridled energy that made The Doors so popular—all while giving fans what may very well be their swan song from this legendary group. Featuring seven original tracks written by Morrison himself — drawing upon his usual themes of spirituality, the dark side of humanity and self-reflection — combined with some unique spoken word pieces and spacey instrumentation, An American Prayer remains one of The Doors' most creative releases.
6. J Dilla - 'The Shining' (2006)
Image credit: BBE Music
When discussing posthumous albums, one of the most commonly mentioned is J Dilla's The Shining. Released in 2006, four months after the hip-hop legend died from Lupus complications, this album marked a joyous exit for an artist with endless creativity and technical prowess. As expected from a producer like J Dilla, The Shining stands today as one of the greatest posthumous albums released to date — an instant classic that fans have been spinning over and over since its release over 15 years ago.
5. Bob Marley and The Wailers - 'Confrontation' (1983)
Image credit: Island Records
Bob Marley & The Wailers released the posthumous album Confrontation in 1983, almost three years after Marley's passing. The reggae legend inspired generations with his words and music, paving the way for Jamaican culture to spread to all corners of the world. His passionate poetic images blended together a unique combination of influences from around Jamaica; soulful chanting, ska beats, African roots — all wrapped up in mesmerizing melodies and thought-provoking lyrics that spoke to audiences everywhere.
4. Tupac / Makaveli - 'The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory' (1996)
Image credit: Amaru Entertainment / Interscope Records
It can be a lot to navigate the world of posthumous albums, but when it comes to one of the best in this category, there's no doubt that The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory by Tupac Shakur, commonly known as "Makaveli" is at the top of any list. Released in 1996 after his death a year before, it was thought that none would ever hear new music from him again; however, thanks to some carefully-crafted recordings he had been experimenting with prior to his shooting, fans around the world were able enjoy more tunes from one of hip hop's defining acts.
3. Mac Miller - 'Circles' (2020)
Image credit: Warner Records
Mac Miller's tragic death in 2018 shocked the music industry and sent shockwaves throughout his fan base. In early 2020, his posthumous release Circles hit the airwaves, giving us a glimpse into where Mac Miller was taking his artistry in the years following 2016's The Divine Feminine. As one of the best posthumous albums ever released by an artist gone too soon, listeners are taken on an emotional roller coaster as Miller reflects upon life before and after fame with poignant lyricism and captivating production.
2. The Notorious B.I.G. - 'Life After Death' (1997)
Image credit: Bad Boy / Atlantic Records
For nearly two decades, the late great Notorious B.I.G's magnum opus Life After Death has stood tall as one of the greatest posthumous albums of all time, praised for its lyrical excellence and iconic production. Released just 16 days after his untimely passing, Biggie's double LP offered fans an insight into a darker side of his life and artistry with emotion-filled stories about real experiences that weren’t always easy to swallow but applauded regardless by any and all music fans who heard it. Joined by Puff Daddy and other peers from the ever growing Bad Boy roster at the time, Life After Death stands out as one of rap's most noteworthy releases ever recorded.
1. Big L - 'The Big Picture' (2000)
Image credit: RBC Records
At number one on our list is an incredibly satisfying body of music to listen to. Legendary New York emcee Big L was an influential figure in hip hop during his career, and while he left us much too soon after his untimely death in 1999, he not only left behind a wealth of music that forever solidified him as one of the greatest lyricists of all time, but also released his posthumous masterpiece The Big Picture. For those looking for a deep dive into the life and rhymes of Big L, this album is one you won't want to miss.