Comparing MJ & Tupac: Posthumously


Proud Member
Oct 30, 2022
I've been mentioning him a lot lately, because I've been researching him a lot lately. There is much to be said in the way a posthumous career is managed, and what it does in the perception of a career. And there are many examples of such. Elvis, is the biggest. I would say Jimi Hendrix is a very notable type, and it was probably one of the worst examples of how to completely dismantle a creative vision for a time.

But Tupac has really eclipsed them all. His legacy of records made in his passing has ran the gamut from highest quality to lowest tier. They've done it all, and they really made it go for as long as possible.

But how does that compare to posthumous records made in MJ's name? What are some concepts they share in these careers. Consider:

Loyal to the Game & Xscape:

Loyal to the Game, the ninth 2Pac album released, is one of the more unique entries in the martyred rap legend's extensive catalog. Produced entirely by Eminem, it carries on with the approach the man otherwise known as Marshall Mathers took with his production contributions to the preceding year's Tupac: Resurrection. Eminem had produced a few songs on that soundtrack, most notably the landmark 2Pac-Biggie duet "Runnin' (Dying to Live)," and his work here on Loyal to the Game isn't too much of a departure from the style of that song. In the wake of the song's popularity, Afeni (Tupac's mother) gave Eminem some old tapes, and he went to work, stripping them of their productions, giving them his own trademark backing (characterized by his style of punchy, syncopated, unfunky beatmaking), incorporating some guest raps for secondary verses, and polishing them off with various sorts of hooks.

All songs on the album were recorded prior to Tupac's involvement in the controversial East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry, serving as the second posthumous album released consisting of material from this time period, the first being 1997's R U Still Down? (Remember Me).

Does this approach sound familiar? It had been used in prior Tupac releases, though not with a high profile producer like Eminem. Beyond that, other artists similarly have adopted the same sort of idea:

Xscape delves deep into (the) past, excavating songs that have been... in the vaults for various reasons since at least 1983 or perhaps later.

The standard version of Xscape features eight tracks, each reworked from 2013 to 2014, whilst the deluxe version also includes the original versions of the songs which were recorded from 1983 to 1999

In both cases, outtakes and demos from the early record days of both were given a modernized spin from a hip hop virtuoso, with the intent of mainstream commercial appeal. This is a fascinating sort of parallel, in an albeit heavy handed new approach. Both methods have their detractors, and their fans. It is interesting to see the approach taken with MJ's work, and yet, you can understand that he would want any work to be comparable to the amount of quality he put in his own material released. Whether that requires extensive reworks is up to the listener to decide.

Now why is comparing these two artists corporate work needed at all? I feel the MJ formula will largely take inspiration from Tupac's work.

What was the last major posthumous Tupac work released?

The sixth posthumous 2Pac album-- not counting soundtracks, reissues, or greatest-hits sets-- is a Duets-like affair featuring contributions from T.I., Snoop Dogg, and Ludacris.

So perhaps that is what's next. It's certainly what is possible.

Overall, though, what, if any Pac release outweighs the man's own living work? Has ever a record released after death ever superceded the artists own work? This is the case for every posthumous album. Even for many an artists hardcore fans, nothing unearthed from the vault will eclipse the great memories of nostalgia we enjoy of the singer who worked on it before hand. The same can be said for MJ certainly.