Rest In Peace…Or Not: 9 Posthumous Albums We Loved, And Some We Could Have Lived Without
When it comes to posthumous albums, for recently deceased and iconic deceased artists, the release of one can bring in big dollars for their estate and more fans to their musical catalog. Over the years, some artists have had their unreleased tracks flipped and released posthumously, with good and bad results. With the news that Drake is hoping to produce a posthumous album for the late Aaliyah (his imaginary girlfriend), the release of the first single, “Enough Said,” and the recent news that Missy and Timbaland will contribute to the project, we’re wondering if the upcoming album will be a huge hit, or a hot mess of a miss. We’re also thinking about past posthumous projects and the marks they’ve made, or the missteps made in releasing them to the world. Shall we discuss? Let’s take a look at a few…
Notorious BIG – Life After Death (Loved)
To be clear up front, posthumous refers to a work published after someone’s death. Though BIG worked on this double album himself and it was actually supposed to be released on Halloween of ’96, it was released two weeks after his death in ’97. Not only was it a commercial success (diamond status) and considered one of the best selling hip-hop albums of all time, it was also a huge success with critics and fans alike. There was a little bit of something for everybody, including the mainstream cats (“Hypnotize”), the ladies (“F*** You Tonight”), the hardcore fans (“Notorious Thugs” and “What’s Beef?”), and…Diddy, of course (“Mo Money Mo Problems”).
Notorious BIG – Duets: The Final Chapter (Bad)
So yeah…what was the deal with the Biggie duets? Talk about having about 800 people on a album who brought nothing to it. “Nasty Girl” was good for club rotation purposes, but the production on the album was cheesy, as were the collaborations (it was like Diddy just sent an email out and asked if anybody had an interest in doing a song with BIG). As Method Man said, “They got n***as on that album Big would have never rocked with, for real.” And then throwing the legendary Bob Marley in the mix was wrong. This whole album was wrong actually. Let’s hope this really was the final chapter…
Aaliyah – I Care 4 U (Loved)
There has been a lot of confusion, but the album Aaliyah was released before the singer’s death, while I Care 4 U was her posthumous work. The latter featured unreleased gems like “Come Over,” “Miss You,” and classic hits as well, like “Are You That Somebody” and “Back & Forth.” If you really want to make a good posthumous album, a mix of “best of” joints and a few (not an entire album…) of new cuts no one knew about like this one will do the trick!
TLC – 3D (Bad)
Man, I LOVE TLC (God knows I do *in Oprah voice*), and even went out to buy their greatest hits album (Now and Forever: The Hits). But I couldn’t get with this album. Before Left Eye’s death, she recorded her parts on four songs for the album before going solo and releasing the album, Supernova. So T-Boz and Chilli went off and put the rest of the album together, and what we got as a result was songs like “Girl Talk,” “Hands Up,” and “Damaged.” The album went platinum, but creatively, it wasn’t on par to albums like Crazy, S@xy, Cool and Fan Mail. Thanks for giving that to your fans and all, but naw…
Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures (Loved)
For big Amy Winehouse fans who were waiting years for a comeback, news of her death in the summer of 2011 was a crushing blow. But by December of that same year, the folks at Island Records decided to drop Lioness: Hidden Treasures, which was a mix of unreleased efforts, as well as demos and re-workings of past album favorites. It performed commercially well and was able to showcase the songbird’s brilliant voice (and we even got to hear Nas!). My favorites include “Half Time,” “Between The Cheats” and “A Song For You.”
Michael Jackson – Michael (Bad)
I ride with Michael Jackson’s music to the end, but this posthumous effort gets a hell-to-the-naw stamp. As Will.i.am stated, to release music that folks know Michael would have not given his full consent to was “disrespectful.” Not to mention that there was all this controversy over whether or not we were even hearing Michael’s voice on some of these songs (his own family wasn’t too sure…). And in the end, I’m sorry, but what producers came up with and released was just wack. “Hollywood Tonight” was dull, “Hold My Hand” was a bootleg version of “You Are Not Alone” and c’mon, did we really need to hear 50 Cent???
Makaveli: The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Loved)
We know that Pac is pretty much the face of posthumous anything, as folks drop a new album from him every other year, but his first, was probably his best one. I’m assuming that was because he worked on it himself. Released under the new stage name, Makaveli, 7 Day Theory was a dark piece of work, but it still reached a lot of people, hence the end result being that it went four times platinum. With classic cuts like “Hail Mary,” club jams like “Toss It Up” and joints like “Me and My Girlfriend,” it was an album that worked for everyone.
2Pac – Pac’s Life (Bad)
But this didn’t work for everyone. The singles alone that were dropped for Pac’s Life deserved a “WTF” face. The song “Pac’s Life” with Ashanti and T.I. was cheesy, and like with BIG’s Duets: The Final Chapter, it seemed they wanted to put anybody who was a nobody on a song with this man. “Playa Cardz Right” with Keyshia Cole was alright, but damn, did we need a feature from Papoose, Ludacris and Lil Scrappy of all people!? Critics were already mad at the basic production that didn’t fit the rapper’s sound, but I was mad the minute I heard about all these collaborations! Please let this man rest (or be wherever he is…).
Selena – Dreaming of You (Loved)
I know what you’re thinking…random! But don’t be like that, ya’ll know “If I Could Fall In Love” was your jam. Plus, my co-workers were very adamant that this album needed to be on the list. Dreaming of You was actually the second posthumous work for the Tejano singer, and of course it produced “Dreaming of You” and the aforementioned “If I Could Fall In Love.” For people who didn’t know much about the singer before her passing, they were treated to a mix of English pop jams as well as Spanish-language cuts. Clearly everyone liked it, because the album debuted at number one and went more than triple platinum. And a “biddi biddi bom bom” to you!
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