Top Ten Best-Selling Rap Albums of All Time

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the rap genre was respected and legitimized. In 30 short years, the genre has involved from being an alternative form of music to being mainstream and has even evolved into a ¬†dominant presence in popular culture. With so many great artists throughout the history of the genre, few have made it to the top. Here are the top ten best-selling rap albums of all time in the United States:


Country Grammar



Estimated sales: 9.0 million copies

Released June 27, 2000 by Universal Records, Country Grammar was Nelly’s debut studio album. The album resulted in four successful singles which include “Country Grammar”, “E.I”, “Ride wit Me”, and “Batter Up”. The album managed to top the US Billboard 200 for five consecutive weeks and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for a total of six consecutive weeks. Since then the album has sold just over 9 million copies and was certified by the RIAA 9x platinum, making it one of the best-selling albums in US history.


Licensed to Ill

Beastie Boys


Estimated sales: 9.0 million copies

As the oldest album on the list, Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys is widely regarded as one of the albums which defined and legitimized the rap genre. Throughout the years, the album has received a number of awards and accolades. Slant Magazine listed the album at number 12 on its list of Best Albums of the 1980’s, Q Magazine ranked the album as 16 in its list of the 40 Best Albums of the 80’s, and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album as the 217th best album of all time.


Big Willie Style

Will Smith


Estimated sales: 9.5 million copies

After spending the majority of his career as half of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Big Willie Style was Will Smith’s first solo studio album. Upon release fans were ecstatic. In the United States, Big Willie Style spent a total of seven week in the Top 10 and 69 week in the Top 40. The album was certified 9x platinum by the RIAA on July 20, 2000. The album was so well received it earned Will Smith two Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Men in Black” in 1997 and “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” in 1998. This made Will Smith the only artist in history to win two different Grammys from this category for two songs from the same album.


Greatest Hits



Estimated sales: 10 million copies

The double disc album, Greatest Hits, was released posthumously as a collection of 2Pac’s greatest hits. The album itself contains the top 21 songs of 2Pacs career and is meant to highlight his life and career. The album resulted in the first and only posthumous Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200 and sold 268,000 copies in its first week.


Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

MC Hammer


Estimated sales: 10.05 million copies

The ground-breaking album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em ranked number one for 21 total weeks on the Billboard 200. The massively successful single “U Can’t Touch This” drove much of the success of the album. Since its release the song has continued to be used in many movies, television shows, commercials, and other areas of pop culture. The album is credited specifically for bringing rap music to a whole new level of popularity. It was also the first hip-hop album in history to be certified diamond by the RIAA with over 10 million copies sold.


The Eminem Show



Estimated sales: 10.1 million copies

The fourth studio album by rapper Eminem, The Eminem Show, was released on May 28, 2002. In 2003, the album was nominated for Album of the Year and was also Eminem’s third album in four years to win the award for Best Rap Album. Upon release, the album debuted at number one of the Billboard 200 chart and sold more than 284,000 units in its first week alone, which only consisted of a day and a half due to accidental premature release by a number of retailers. In its first full week of sales, the album sold more than 1,322,000 copies. The album was ranked the 317th best album in history by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2009.


Life After Death

The Notorious B.I.G


Estimated sales: 10.2 million copies

Life After Death was the final studio album released by The Notorious B.I.G. The album was released on March 25, 1997, two weeks after the death of Biggie, which is reflected in the album’s title. The albums features a number of collaborations with guests artists such as Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, D.M.C., R. Kelly, and Puff Daddy (as he was called at the time). The album holds the record for the biggest jump to number one in Billboard History, jumping from number 176 to number 1 in a single week. The album was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1998 for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance, and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.


The Marshall Mathers LP



Estimated sales: 10.6 million copies

Released May 23, 2000, by Interscope Records, The Marshall Mathers LP is the third studio album by the rapper Eminem. In 2001, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and was also nominated for the Album of the Year Award. The album has essentially become representative of an entire generation. In fact, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album 244th in The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album itself was also a source of a lot of controversy in the early 2000’s. To ease tensions and put disputes to rest, Eminem performed the controversial song “Stan” alongside the openly gay Elton John at the 2001 Grammy Awards.


Speakerboxxx / The Love Below



Estimated sales: 11.4 million copies

The fifth studio album by the hip hop duo Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was released on September 23, 2003. The album itself is comprised of two discs, each which feature the solo work of the groups two members. Speakerboxxx was the solo project of Big Boi whereas The Love Below was the solo project of Andre 3000. As a result, the album produced two number one singles, “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move”. As a part of its overall success, the album was nominated for and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2004.


All Eyez on Me



Estimated sales: 11.6 million copies

All Eyez on Me is the best-selling rap album of all time. It was the fourth studio album by 2Pac and was released on February 13, 1996 under Death Row Records. In the first week the album sold more than 566,000 copies and within two months of being released the RIAA certified the album 5x platinum. As a result, the album is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of 90’s rap music. In 1997, the album won the Soul Train R&B/Soul or rap Album of the Year Award.

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