20 Best Selling Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time

Commercials have always been the focus of hip-hop. Which debut sold the most? Which rapper had the best first-week sales? Who had the most downloads? Which album sold the most units? Hip-hop has always been about flashing your money and stunting people, no matter what you think.

Take a look at the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time, from Jay-Z to Eminem, Lauryn Hill to 2Pac, 50 Cent to Nelly.

Best-Selling Hip-Hop Albums

20. Jay-Z – Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life

Released: September 29, 1998

Label: Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam Recordings

Units sold: 5.4 million

Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life is the third studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on September 29, 1998, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. It went on to become his most commercially successful album, selling over 5 million copies in the United States.

19. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP

Released: February 23, 1999

Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records

Units sold: 5.4 million

The Slim Shady LP is the second studio album by American rapper Eminem. It was released on February 23, 1999, by Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.

The first single, “My Name Is”, became Eminem’s first entry on the Billboard Hot 100. The album won Best Rap Album at the 2000 Grammy Awards, while “My Name Is” won Best Rap Solo Performance. In 2000, The Slim Shady LP was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

18. Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

Released: November 23, 1993

Label: Death Row/Priority Records

Units sold: 5.5 million

Doggystyle is the debut studio album by American rapper Snoop Dogg, then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg. It was released on November 23, 1993, by Death Row Records and Interscope Records.

Doggystyle debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 806,858 copies in its first week alone in the United States, which was the record for a debuting artist and the fastest-selling hip-hop album ever at the time. Doggystyle was included on The Source magazine’s list of the 100 Best Rap Albums, as well as Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Essential Recordings of the ’90s.

17. 2Pac – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

Released: November 5, 1996

Label: Death Row/Interscope Records

Units sold: 6 million

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is the fifth studio album by American rapper Tupac Shakur, his first posthumous record and the last released with his creative input.

Originally intended as an underground release and preceded by the release of “Toss It Up” as the lead single, the album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 664,000 copies within its first week of release. 

By 1999, it was certified four-times platinum by the RIAA. “To Live & Die in L.A.” and “Hail Mary” were released later as singles and both garnered praise as standout tracks from the album. None of its singles charted within the Billboard Hot 100, but all charted within the top twenty of UK Singles chart.

16. Fugees – The Score

Released: February 13, 1996

Label: Columbia Records

Units sold: 6.1 million

The Score is the second and final studio album by the hip hop trio Fugees. The Score was released worldwide on February 13, 1996, on Columbia Records.

As of February 2021, The Score has been certified seven times platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It is the best-selling album by an American hip-hop act in France, where the album has been certified Diamond. 

With an estimated 22 million copies sold worldwide, the album has become one of the best-selling albums of all time, at the time of its release it became the best-selling hip-hop album of all time, and remains the best-selling album by a hip-hop group. As of June 2021, the album is the fifth most streamed rap album released in the 1990s on Spotify

15. Nelly – Nellyville

Released: June 25, 2002

Label: Universal Records

Units sold: 6.5 million

Nellyville is the second studio album by American rapper Nelly. It was released on June 25, 2002, by Universal Records and Fo’ Reel Entertainment. The album’s production was handled by Waiel Yaghnam, Neptunes, Jay E, Trackboyz, Ryan Bowser, and Just Blaze.

Nellyville debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200, with sales of 715,000 equivalent units in the opening week of the country. 

It remained at number one for four non-consecutive weeks and was eventually certified six-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of over six million equivalent units in sales, which allowed Nellyville to become Nelly’s second number-one, multi-platinum, and top-10 album in the United States following his debut album Country Grammar in 2000. 

As of March 16, 2011, Nellyville sold 6,488,000 copies in the United States, and it became the 14th best-selling rap album of all time. Internationally, it peaked at number two on the album charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand.

14. Vanilla Ice – To the Extreme

Released: August 28, 1990

Label: Capitol Records

Units sold: 7 million

To the Extreme is the major-label debut studio album of American rapper Vanilla Ice released on September 3, 1990. The album contains Vanilla Ice’s most successful singles, “Ice Ice Baby” and a cover of “Play That Funky Music”. Although reviews of the album were mixed, To the Extreme spent 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, and sold 15 million copies worldwide.

13. Dr. Dre – 2001

Released: November 16, 1999

Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records

Units sold: 7.6 million

2001 is the second studio album by rapper and hip hop producer Dr. Dre. It was released on November 16, 1999, by Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records as the follow-up to his 1992 debut album, The Chronic.

12. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Released: August 25, 1998

Label: Ruffhouse/Columbia Records

Units sold: 8 million

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut solo album by American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. It was released on August 25, 1998, by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a neo-soul and R&B album with some songs based on hip hop soul and reggae.

The album debuted at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 516,000 copies in its first week. It produced 3 singles that attained chart success and has been certified 6× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); and as of August 2015 the album has sold 7,800,000 copies in the United States. 2001 received generally positive reviews from critics, many of whom praised the music although some found the lyrics objectionable.

11. Nelly – Country Grammar

Released: June 27, 2000

Label: Universal Records

Units sold: 8.5 million

Country Grammar is the debut studio album by American rapper Nelly. It was released on June 27, 2000, by Universal Records. The production on the album was handled by Jason “Jay E” Epperson, with additional production by C-Love, Kevin Law, City Spud, Steve “Blast” Wills and Basement Beats.

The album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and Music Canada (MC), selling 45,000 and 300,000 copies respectively.

In 2016, Country Grammar became the ninth hip-hop album to be certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing 10 million copies shipped in the United States. Its commercial success secured Nelly’s status as one of the most successful hip-hop acts of the decade of the 2000s.

In 2016, Country Grammar became the ninth hip hop album to be certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipment of 10 million copies in the US. Its commercial success secured Nelly’s status as one of the most successful hip-hop acts of the 2000s decade. 

10. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Released: February 6, 2003

Label: Shady/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records

Units sold: 8.9 million

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is the debut studio album by American rapper 50 Cent. It was released on February 6, 2003, by Interscope Records, Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, Eminem’s Shady Records, and 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records.

Released a week in advance to combat bootlegging and internet leakage, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 872,000 copies in its first week of sales. 

The album’s singles also saw commercial success, with both “In da Club” and “21 Questions” reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100, while “P.I.M.P.” became a number one hit in several countries. The album was ranked number one on the Billboard Year-End 2003 and received generally positive reviews from music critics.

9. 2Pac – All Eyez On Me

Released: February 13, 1996

Label: Death Row/Interscope Records

Units sold: 9 million

All Eyez on Me is the fourth studio album by American rapper 2Pac and the last to be released during his lifetime. Released on February 13, 1996, by Death Row and Interscope Records.

All Eyez on Me was the second album by 2Pac to chart at number one on both the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, selling 566,000 copies in the first week. Seven months later, 2Pac was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting. The album won the 1997 Soul Train Music Award for Rap Album of the Year posthumously and was also posthumously nominated for Best Rap Album at the 39th Grammy Awards in 1997.

8. Will Smith – Big Willie Style

Released: November 25, 1997

Label: Columbia Records

Units sold: 9 million

Big Willie Style is the debut solo album by American rapper and actor Will Smith. It was released on November 25, 1997, by Columbia Records. The album was primarily produced by Poke & Tone, with other contributors including L.E.S. and Smith’s former collaborator DJ Jazzy Jeff. 

The album was the first to be released by Smith since 1993’s Code Red, the last by the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Five singles were released, including Smith’s first US Billboard Hot 100 number one, “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It”.

7. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill

Released: November 15, 1986

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Units sold: 9 million

Licensed to Ill is the debut studio album by American rap rock group Beastie Boys. It was released on November 15, 1986, by Def Jam and Columbia Records, and became the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart.

The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 2, 1987 and eventually was certified Diamond on March 4, 2015. The single “Brass Monkey” was certified Gold for shipment of 500,000+ sales. 

In 2012, in the week following Adam Yauch’s death, which subsequently resulted in a surge in sales of Beastie Boys albums, Licensed to Ill reached number 1 on Billboard’s Catalog Albums chart. The album also re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 18.

6. 2Pac – Greatest Hits

Released: November 24, 1998

Label: Death Row/Interscope Records

Units sold: 10 million

Greatest Hits is a posthumous double-disc greatest hits album by American rapper 2Pac, released by Amaru Entertainment, Death Row Records, and Interscope Records on November 24, 1998. The album’s non-chronological sequence focuses on the highlights of 2Pac’s career.

5. MC Hammer – Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Released: February 12, 1990

Label: Capitol Records

Units sold: 10 million

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em is the third studio album by MC Hammer, released on February 12, 1990, by Capitol Records and EMI Records. The album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Felton Pilate and James Earley.

The album raised rap music to a new level of popularity. It is the first hip-hop album ever to be certified diamond by the RIAA for sales of over ten million in the United States. To date, the album has sold as many as 17 million copies worldwide as of July 15, 2012.

4. Eminem – The Eminem Show

Released: May 28, 2002

Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records

Units sold: 10.1 million

The Eminem Show is the fourth studio album by American rapper Eminem. After it had originally scheduled for release on June 4, 2002, the album was released on May 26, 2002, by Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records, and Interscope Records due to pirating and bootlegging of it.

In 2022, it was certified 12× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and its worldwide sales of 27 million copies make it one of the best-selling albums of all time and the second best-selling album of the 21st century.

3. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

Released: March 25, 1997

Label: Bad Boy Records

Units sold: 10.2 million

Life After Death is the second and final studio album by American rapper The Notorious B.I.G., released on March 25, 1997, on Bad Boy Records and Arista Records.

The album was nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance for its first single “Hypnotize”, and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for its second single “Mo Money Mo Problems” at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards. In 2020, the album was ranked at No. 179 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

2. OutKast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Released: September 23, 2003

Label: LaFace/Arista Records

Units sold: 11 million

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is the fifth studio album by American hip hop duo Outkast. It was released on September 23, 2003, by Arista Records. Issued as a double album, its length of over two hours is spread across solo albums from both of the group’s members.

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was supported with the hit singles “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move”, which both reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and the top-ten hit “Roses”. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 510,000 copies in its first week. 

The song spent a total of seven non-consecutive weeks at the top of the chart and 24 weeks in the Top 10. According to the RIAA, it has been certified diamond and 11 times platinum (each disc in the double album counts as a separate unit). In the United States, it has sold 5.7 million units as of March 2012.

1. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

Released: May 23, 2000

Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records

Units sold: 11 million

The Marshall Mathers LP is the third studio album by American rapper Eminem, released on May 23, 2000, by Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, staying atop for eight consecutive weeks. A significant commercial success compared to the release of The Slim Shady LP just the previous year, the album sold 1.78 million copies in its first week, which made it among the fastest-selling studio albums in the United States..

3 thoughts on “20 Best Selling Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time”

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