Last weekend marked the 19th anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death, a somber day for plenty of hip-hop heads. And while many people turned to their favorite Tupac playlist or album in remembrance, it got us at XXL thinking about the man whose posthumous output—six solo albums in total—amounts to more than the four solo albums he released during his short lifetime. And he's not the only one with a formidable catalog released after his death; The Notorious B.I.G. and Big L, among others, are among the rappers with more posthumous albums than were released during their lives.

This year already has been a sad one for hip-hop; both Chinx and Sean Price were lost unexpectedly after both had finished records, resulting in the posthumous LPs Welcome To JFK and Songs In The Key Of Price, respectively. And there have been plenty of rumors and conversations about posthumous projects from Aaliyah, A$AP YamsLil Snupe and another from Pimp C, among others. With those albums in mind, XXL takes a look at nine essential posthumous hip-hop albums. Which projects would you add?


The Big Picture

Big L

Release Date: Aug. 1, 2000
Essential Tracks: "Ebonics (Criminal Slang)," "Size ’Em Up," "Flamboyant"

When Big L was gunned down in Harlem in February of 1999, the hip-hop world lost one of its most lyrically gifted MCs. The Big Picture, his second solo album, underlined why. Standing tall alongside OGs like Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap and Guru as well as more contemporary rappers like Fat Joe, Remy Ma and 2pac, L delivered a hip-hop history lesson with "Ebonics" and spit fire over some outstanding production from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Showbiz, Lord Finesse and Ron Browz. A few more collections and compilations have followed, but The Big Picture stands as L's final statement.


Yeeeah Baby

Big Pun

Release Date: Apr. 4, 2000
Essential Tracks: "It's So Hard" featuring Donell Jones, "100 %" featuring Tony Sunshine, "Ms. Martin" featuring Remy Ma

This album couldn't touch his debut LP Capital Punishment, but that's because his first project is one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history. But Yeeeah Baby still had plenty to offer, released two months after Pun's massive weight gain caught up to him health-wise. In addition to its singles "It's So Hard" and "100 %," this album also serves as the introduction of Remy Ma, who makes two guest appearances including on the track "Ms. Martin."


Str8 Off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton


Release Date: Nov. 24, 1995
Essential Tracks: "Just Tah Let U Know," "Tha Muthaphukkin Real" featuring MC Ren, "Wut Would You Do" featuring Dirty Red

The breakup of N.W.A and the formation of Death Row Records in response to Eazy's Ruthless Records label drives much of this album with several diss tracks aimed at Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, among others. Released eight months after his death of complication stemming from AIDS, it's Eazy's final solo record and his last statement before compilations and greatest hits releases over the following decade-plus.

Wreckshop Records


Ghetto Dreams

Fat Pat

Release Date: March 17, 1998
Essential Tracks: "Tops Drop," "Ghetto Dreams"

The biggest tragedy of Fat Pat's life is that he didn't live to see the release of his debut album, Ghetto Dreams, which came out six weeks after he was shot and killed in his hometown of Houston. But as his first-ever album, Ghetto Dreams stands as the first full, complete statement from the key member of DJ Screw's Screwed Up Click. Just a month later, a second album, Throwed In Da Game, was also released via Wreckshop Records. Pick up both to get a taste of what fans have missed since Pat's death.


The Shining

J Dilla

Release Date: Aug. 22, 2006
Essential Tracks: "So Far to Go" featuring Common and D'Angelo, "Won't Do," "E=MC²" featuring Common

Dilla is undoubtedly a legend, particularly in the Neo-Soul world, which makes this LP with features from Busta Rhymes, Common, D'Angelo, Pharoahe Monch, Madlib, Black Thought and more a fitting album. Entirely produced by Dilla (with an assist from Madlib) and completed by Karriem Riggins following the beatmaker's death, it's a fitting capstone to his career behind the boards.


Dre Day: July 5th 1970

Mac Dre

Release Date: July 22, 008
Essential Tracks: "Since '84, '94, '04" featuring Dubee and Mistah F.A.B., "G.A.M.E" featuring B-Legit, "Get Stupid" featuring Cutthroat Committee

Remixes and re-interpolations of rarities don't always provide the best formula for a posthumous release, but Mac Dre's extensive catalog was harnessed and paired with some of The Bay's best and brightest, with older MCs mixed in with young guns and contemporaries. For a celebration of his life four years after his untimely death, it's a worthwhile collection.


The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory


Release Date: Nov. 5, 1996
Essential Tracks: "Hail Mary" featuring The Outlawz, "To Live and Die In L.A." featuring Val Young, "Hold Ya Head"

Two months after his death, Tupac's first album under his new Makaveli moniker would also be the first of a string of posthumous releases. Famously written in recorded in just a week, The Don Killuminati is 'Pac at some of his most intense, with a string of emotional cuts that showcased just what the legendary MC had left in the tank.


The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones

Pimp C

Release Date: Oct. 5, 2010
Essential Tracks: "Since the 90's" featuring Gator Mane and E-40, "Hit the Parking Lot" featuring Webbie and Lil Boosie

While UGK's UGK 4 Life in 2009 marked the final chapter of Pimp and Bun B's trailblazing duo and was also released after Pimp's death, The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones is his first solo posthumous release. And while it can be uneven at times, Pimp's singular identity still shines through alongside guests like Bun, Too $hort, E-40, Boosie & Webbie, Jeezy, Rick Ross, Slim Thug and Drake, among a handful of others. It might not be a creative high point for Pimp, but it satisfied fans still bummed that the MC had died too young.


Life After Death

The Notorious B.I.G.

Release Date: March 25, 1997
Essential Tracks: "Hypnotize," "Mo Money Mo Problems" featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e, "Notorious Thugs" featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Going Back to Cali"

Released two weeks after his death, this album could be considered Biggie's final creative statement, and what a statement it was. A double album full of fantastic collaborations—Puffy and Ma$e, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Jay Z, Too $hort, The LOX and R. Kelly all make appearances, among others—and typically vivid rhymes, Life After Death is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, eerie title and all. While many would point to the 1999 compilation Born Again as his first true posthumous release, Life After Death fits the bill and can't be overlooked.