Had he lived, Tupac Shakur would have celebrated his 40th birthday this summer. It’s interesting to contemplate what a grizzled Tupac would sound like; The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Shakur’s first posthumously released album, introduced his darker side, a sinister, new sound that, unfortunately, never got the chance to evolve. While the rapper is now notorious for his posthumous albums, having released nine since his death in 1996, The Don Killuminati puts most of Shakur’s early discography to shame.
While it’s true that posthumous albums can be exploitative, pushed onto the market by opportunistic handlers and record labels (ahem, Michael), they can also can be legitimate contributions to an artist’s discography and true gifts to their fans. Now, in hopes that chatter about new material from the late Amy Winehouse will add up to more than just an attempt to cash in, we’ve collected 15 great records that gave dearly departed musicians new life.
Joy Division, Closer
In May of 1980, Ian Curtis, Joy Division’s frontman and primary songwriter, committed suicide, leading to the band’s dissolution. Two months later, Closer was released. While it was only Joy Division’s second full-length, their progress and maturation was already audible — the album features a more rich and ominous sound than anything found on their debut, Unknown Pleasures. The innovation and lyrical beauty showcased on Closer still haunts listeners today, the true mark of music that was ahead of its time.