7 Rappers Who Have Won Posthumous Awards: Pop Smoke, Tupac & More

Death and hip-hop are far too close to each other. Here is a list of 7 rappers who posthumously received awards.

BYMike Fugere
7 Rappers Who Have Won Posthumous Awards: Pop Smoke, Tupac & More

Sadly, posthumous releases from slain rappers are an occurrence that is more common than it should be. From legends like Notorious B.I.G. to young MCs like Pop Smoke, some artists don’t get to see the full impact they made on fans. While they, by no means, make up for such losses, some rappers get their accolades after their passing. Even in death, the music and creative forces of these rappers can not be quelled. Here are seven rappers who we’ve lost and the posthumous awards they have won. So pour one out for some of the rap game’s greatest titans in a bittersweet tribute to their talents.

7. Pop Smoke

Bashar Jackson, better known as Pop Smoke, was a rapper who we lost far too early. Smoke was murdered in a rental property in Los Angeles on February 19th, 2020, at the tender age 20. His loss was a massive blow to the hip-hop community, and the music industry, at large.

His legacy and music continued to touch fans everywhere after his death. In 2021, the Billboard Music Awards posthumously awarded the late rapper five accolades including Top Rap Artist and Top Rap Album for Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon. His mother Audrey Jackson accepted the awards on her late son’s behalf. Simply heartbreaking. Smoke has also posthumously won an iHeartRadio Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Song in 2022.

6. Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle was a West Coast legend in his own right. After a string of speaker-crushing mixtapes, the LA-based MC would release his first studio album Victory Lap in 2018. Unfortunately, it would be the only studio album Nipsey would see released in his lifetime. On March 31st, 2019, at the age of 33, Nipsey was gunned down in the parking lot of Marathon Clothing.

Nipsey’s legacy of community activism and music was not lost in the wake of his untimely death. At the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, the late rapper’s song “Racks in the Middle” would take the Best Rap Performance award. Nipsey’s family accepted the posthumous award on his behalf. DJ Khaled's song "Higher" also earned Nipsey a second posthumous Grammy the same night.

5. Juice WRLD

Juice WRLD (born Jarad Higgins) was a SoundCloud rap luminary as a teenager. The Chicago native would go on to amass a large fanbase and see a pair of successful album releases in his life. Sadly, on December 8th, 2019, Juice WRLD died due to an acute overdose of pharmaceutical opiates, at the age of 21.

After his passing Juice would go on to earn posthumous accolades. His work won the Favorite Male Artist – Hip-Hop at the 2020 American Music Awards. He would also earn the Best Hip-Hop Album Award at the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Awards for Death Race for Love, which was the last release before his death.

4. XXXTentacion 

Jahseh Onfroy (better known as XXXTentacion) was a figure in hip-hop who was as influential as he was controversial. The Florida-native rapper/producer helped usher in a new wave of lo-fi rap with a DIY punk attitude. Despite his complicated legacy, XXXTentacion has remained a massive influence on artists across genres. However, his influence was cut short when Onfroy was murdered on June 18th, 2018, at the age of 20.

XXXTentacion won an American Music Award in the Favorite Album-Soul/R&B category for 17, only a few months after his death. The win was met with mixed reactions, with some criticizing the award going to a convicted abuser with a violent past. Onfroy’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard accepted her son’s posthumous win.

3. Takeoff

Takeoff was one-third of hip-hop hitmakers Migos, along with his uncle Quavo and cousin Offset. A member of Migos, he was the recipient of an MTV Video Music Award, an American Music Award, and several BET Awards. That’s just to name a few. Unfortunately, Takeoff died in Houston, Texas on November 1st, 2022, at the age of 28 from gun violence.

In 2023, Takeoff and his bandmate/uncle, Quavo took home the Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Song at the NAACP Image Awards. The duo won for their song “Hotel Lobby.”

2. Notorious B.I.G.

The legend known as Notorious B.I.G. was an irreplaceable stitch in the tapestry of rap music. Born Christopher Wallace, the incomparable NYC rapper was (and always will be) considered one of the biggest influences on modern hip-hop. His body of work still hits the airwaves around the world and his syrupy lyrical delivery has yet to be replicated. He was truly larger than life.

Unfortunately, a drive-by shooting on March 9th, 1997 cut that life short. The rapper was 24 years old and had untold potential ahead of him. After his death, Biggie would earn a pair of MTV Music Video Awards and a Soul Train Music Award. In 2020, the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inducted Christopher Wallace.

1. Tupac Shakur

What can be said about Tupac Shakur that hasn’t already been said? The man was an American icon who transcended mediums in both music and film. He was heartfelt poet with a silver tongue and a complicated history. He was also one of the faces of rap music’s Mount Rushmore (along with Biggie Smalls). However, the world lost Pac on September 13th, 1996, at the age of 25.

Shakur had won a handful of awards, most of them posthumously. In 1997 he won the Soul Train Music Award for Best Album of the Year for All Eyez on Me. That same year, Tupac won an American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist.

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