Discover the list of the most bankable rappers of all time…
The oh so symbolic bar of 10 million copies sold in the United States has been crossed only nine times in the history of rap, and this by only seven artists.
If quantity never guaranteed qualitythis kind of commercial performance remains quite remarkable.
At a time when the certification criteria are still evolving, a look back at these artists who panicked the counters when the physical disk was still king.
Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em (1990)
History will remember that MC Hammer is the first rapper to be awarded a diamond disc by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
Carried by the thunderous U Can’t Touch This (which resumed briskly and without finesse superfreak of Rick James), this third album by MC Marteau remained ranked number 1 for 21 weeks (another record).
This unprecedented commercial success (22 million copies sold in all countries to date) will not, however, prevent its author from knowing the joys of bankruptcy a few years later – the fault of a 12 million dollar company with 200 employees and a few copyright lawsuits.
A way of life to which Rick Ross will pay tribute with his famous hit… MC Hammer.
Licensed To Ill (1986)
Released four years before, the Beastie Boys’ first try will have put 29 years to obtain the prestigious certificationnotbecoming the best-selling ’80s rap album of the decade.
Tragically it is the death of Adam Yauch aka MCAhas boosted sales in recent years.
A new record for this cult album (first to rank number 1 on the top album, second after Run DMC to achieve platinum status).
Joyfully combining rock, punk and rap (the trio will also be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012), Licensed to Ill enabled the Def Jam label to establish itself definitively in the musical landscape, in particular thanks to cult songs (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) and No Sleep Till Brooklyn.
For the record, if you place the cover in front of a mirror, the inscription on the fin 3MTA3 turns into EAT ME – apparently a message related to fellatio…
All Eyes On Me (1996)
Another album to have had to wait for many years (eighteen) before passing the 10 million mark, Tupac’s classic released by death row/Interscope is a singles factory on its own. Impossible to name them all.
Recorded upon his release from prison and the last record released during his lifetime, All Eyes On Me boasts a four-star cast both behind the mic (Snoop, Method Man, George Clinton, E-40..) than in production (Johnny J, Dr, daz, DJ Quik…). Everything turns out to be wonderfully homogeneous.
A legendary record like the rap world will probably never see again.
Note however that as a double album, each copy sold counts double. In reality, and this applies to the rest of the classification, none were sold ” that “ 5 million copies, considering, as is often the case, that double albums are sold at the price of singles.
Greatest Hits (1998)
All Eyes On Me however, is not Tupac’s best-selling album. In the race for figures, he is overtaken by a best-of released after his death. A distinction he shares with Bob Marley and The Eagles.
Changes which reuses the verses of the title I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto released on an earlier compilation, would be a big hit, again surpassing his previous work in terms of popularity.
One can nevertheless be surprised by the fact that the tracklist is composed of a third (!) of titles present on AEOM slightly reworked for rights issues: 2 of Americaz Most Wanted, Life Goes On, Picture Me Rollin’…
Life After Death (1997)
Chronologically, The Notorious BIG is the second rapper to win a diamond disc. His death just two weeks before the release of the album will greatly contribute to the commercial craze here.
Of course, this success is not limited to this combination of circumstances, especially in view of the quality of the 24 tracks offered. The question of who ready-to-die Where Life After Death is the best raging incidentally until today.
Unlike its predecessor, the record is much more mainstream. The radios will also go on a loop and for many months Hypnotize and Mo Money Mo Problems. So much so that we often forget the commercial potential of certain titles that could not be clipped, such as the anthology collaboration with Bone Thugz-n-Harmony, Notorious Thugs or cultism Ten Crack Commandments.
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
It is an understatement to say that Eminem’s third album was expected by the general public.. With 1.7 million copies sold in the first week, it tripled the rap record set by Snoop and his Doggystyleeven paying for the luxury of dethroning Britney Spears in the first place of the best starts of all time for a solo artist.
Critically acclaimed and recognized as his best album, The Marshall Mathers LP nevertheless had to wait until the next decade to be awarded their diamond plaqueMarch 9, 2011 to be precise.
A success all the more incredible, that at the time Em’ looked like a big bad wolf, rabid psychopathic tendency. Fifteen years later titles like Kill You Where Kim have against all odds become classics.
The Eminem Show (2002)
Two years later, Slim puts the cover still in the company of his mentor Dr. Dre. Like the previous time, and the time before, he wins the Grammy for Best Rap Album of the year.
At the peak of its art and popularity, Eminem connects the tubes without stopping. Versatile MC par excellence, each title targets and finds a different audience: Cleanin’ Out My Closet, Sing for the Moment, Superman, Till I Collapse, Without Me…
The competition finds itself dropped light years away. No wonder the Detroit rapper is biggest seller in rap history. A claim to fame that he may well never have to share with anyone.
Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below (2003)
Is Outkast the biggest rap group in the world? Their double album is in any case the best-selling album in rap history on US soil.
However, when it was released, many people wonder if the duo will sell more than 4 copies so much The Love Below by André Trois Mille explores musical lands close to experimentation with a rap at the crossroads between Prince, Beck and George Clinton.
The flagship single hey ya however sweeps away all hesitations, claiming a place of choice in the pantheon of American popular culture.
Far from being outdone, his lifelong friend Big Boi connects more classic hits but always original and effective : GhettoMusick, The Rooster, Bust, Flip Flop Rock Where Last Call – some whisper that his part has aged much better.
Still, with this project that has since remained unparalleledthe public languishes every day a little more about a possible discographic reformation of the group or the release of André Benjamin’s first solo.
Country Grammar (2000)
At the start of the 21 century, the American South is still largely stigmatized in the world of rap.
Proud of his native Saint Louis, Nelly, who then wore his Cardinals team jersey like Jay Z wore his Yankees cap, managed to completely turn the situation around by landing with an unprecedented style for the time.
His hummed flow associated with simple and accessible rhymes give the instrumentals composed by his friend Jay E Epperson a pop tone that bristles many purists, but which allows him to transcend regional barriers. Festive as hell, the proposed sound naturally finds its place on the country’s radio stations and pushes rap (and pop) into a new era.
Certainly the album does not necessarily leave a strong impression, but it is one of those who, when listening again, always brings back good memories.
Worn by singles Country Grammar (Hot Shit) and Ride With Me, it will sell 9 million units in four yearsbefore waiting another twelve years to achieve platinum certification.
If it’s a safe bet that all the Drakes and Kendrick Lamars on Earth will never reach 10 million records sold in physical copies, it is however very possible that some older albums that fluctuate between 7 and 9 million of sales end up joining this very closed club: 50 Cent with Get Rich Or Die TryingDr Dre with 2001or Vanilla Ice with To the Extreme.