In rap, there are a lot of tracks where performers talk about their wealth and how much more money they have than other rappers. Some rappers are able to back it up because they’re worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions. While even just making a couple million can set you up for life, some rappers have turned themselves into a brand and become generationally wealthy. A lot of that money comes in the form of record sales, with these 25 making up the best-selling rappers of all time with millions of albums sold.
Albums Sold: 220 Million
Interestingly enough, the top selling rapper of all time sold just 1,000 copies of his first studio album, Infinite, in 1996. Just a few years later, though, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show sold a combined 52 million copies worldwide to boost Eminem’s sales. When you add in albums like Recovery and The Slim Shady LP that has impressive showings, Eminem is number one by a longshot on the list.
Albums Sold: 170 Million
Drake has been releasing mixtapes and studio albums since back in 2010, and even in the age of streaming has been able to achieve a massive number of sales. Out of his seven studio albums, 2011’s Take Care is his best selling, going platinum multiple times in the United States and his native Canada. Drake seemingly never stops recording, which gives him a high volume of content to pick from.
3. Kanye West
Albums Sold: 160 Million
Despite being one of the most controversial figures in hip hop history, Kanye West is also among the best-selling of all time. Prior to all of his controversies, though, Kanye was selling albums hand over fist thanks to the trilogy that featured The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation. So far, every Kanye album has been at the top of the Billboard 200.
4. Chris Brown
Albums Sold: 140 Million
Another controversial figure that has dominated the sales charts, Chris Brown released his debut studio album in 2005 that sold 3 million copies and get his career started off on the right foot. Brown has churned out 10 studio albums during his career, as well as other singles and compilation albums to boost sales. Three of his albums have reached the top of the charts in the process.
Albums Sold: 125 Million
Considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all time, Jay-Z is naturally one of the best selling of all time too. Releasing more than a dozen albums during his career, Jay-Z got started in 1996 with Reasonable Doubt that sold 1.5 million copies. The sales would only improve from there, with Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life being his best-performing album to date.
6. Lil Wayne
Albums Sold: 120 Million
Few rappers have released the amount of successful mixtapes as Lil’ Wayne, who has pumped out nearly 30 to go along with his long list of studio albums and EPs. Lil’ Wayne’s first studio album in 1999 was a big success with Tha Block Is Hot and his legend grew from there. In 2008, he released his most successful album, Tha Carter III, which went platinum eight times according to the RIAA.
7. Nicki Minaj
Albums Sold: 100 Million
As one of the most prominent female rappers ever, Nicki Minaj has only needed four studio albums to be one of the best selling rappers ever. Minaj saw big sales from her albums Pink Friday and The Pinkprint, but has focused more on singles sales. All in all, Minaj has released over 120 singles during her prestigious career, including multiple number one hits.
8. Post Malone
Albums Sold: 80 Million
It’s hard to really fit Post Malone into one box, but overall he’s considered a rapper, especially due to his earlier work. Post Malone is also one of the newer acts on the list, releasing his debut album at the very end of 2016 and has released three studio albums since then. Much of Post Malone’s sales have been boosted by his singles, which include number one hits like Rockstar, Psycho, and Sunflower.
9. Flo Rida
Albums Sold: 80 Million
While rap has always had a spot in the mainstream, Flo Rida is one of those performers that’s been able to make it huge on the pop charts as a rapper. Releasing his first album in 2008 with Mail on Sunday, Flo Rida has four total albums and a seemingly endless list of singles. His first single as a lead artist, Low, was one of his most successful as it reached number one on the charts and was certified Diamond.
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10. Tupac Shakur
Albums Sold: 75 Million
Sadly, Tupac Shakur was slain during the prime of his life while his career was really starting to take off. His impact was immense, as some of Tupac’s greatest songs are considered amongst the greatest tracks in hip hop history.
Releasing his first album in 1991, 2Pacalypse Now, Tupac had four albums, including the massive successes Me Against the World and All Eyez on Me. A large bulk of Tupac’s sales came after his death.
11. MC Hammer
Albums Sold: 50 Million
It might be surprising to see MC Hammer so high on the list of best selling rappers, as many consider him a one-hit wonder because of U Can’t Touch This. The album which had the song, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em went platinum 10 times, achieving certified Diamond status. MC Hammer had several other successful albums, as well, and continued to release independent albums through the 2000s.
12. Snoop Dogg
Albums Sold: 37 Million
One of the most recognizable names in hip hop history, Snoop Dogg seems to be more of a pop culture icon that just happened to rap many years ago for the most part. That’s not the case, however, as Snoop has had a high volume of albums over the years, including his first three that all reached the number one spot on the charts. His debut, Doggystyle, was his most successful, selling 11 million copies worldwide.
Albums Sold: 74 Million
The late DMX was one of the most respected rappers of his time and had some really impactful songs over the years, which helped him to become one of the highest selling in turn. DMX’s first five albums, released between 1998 and 2003, all achieved number one status. His debut album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, was his best-selling album with 5.8 million copies sold. He unfortunately passed away in 2021, to the dismay of his global fanbase.
14. 50 Cent
Albums Sold: 30 Million
When compiling a list of the best debut albums of all time, you have to take Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent into consideration. The album went to number one in the United States, selling 12 million copies worldwide. This set the foundation for 50 Cent’s total album sales, which were boosted thanks to his follow up albums The Massacre and Curtis. Though he’s released just one album since 2009, 50 Cent’s early work shot him up this list.
Albums Sold: 28.7 Million
Speaking of amazing debut albums in rap, Nelly’s Country Grammar sold 10 million copies in the United States, going Diamond upon its 2000 release. His 2002 sophomore album Nellyville also fared very well, achieving seven-time platinum status. Since then, Nelly has released several albums, and although they haven’t hit the same heights as the first two, it has propelled him to nearly 30 million albums sold worldwide.
16. Notorious B.I.G.
Albums Sold: 28 Million
It might be a bit surprising to see Notorious B.I.G. so low on the list as many consider him to be the best rapper ever, but there’s really not a big catalog to pick from. Biggie released just two albums before being tragically killed, but Ready to Die and Life After Death were both massively successful. There were also three posthumous albums released by his estate, with Born Again being the most successful, released in 1999.
17. Dr. Dre
Albums Sold: 24.2 Million
Though he’s one of the best rappers to ever get in front of a microphone, much of Dr. Dre’s career has been spent as a producer and record executive. Because of this, Dre finds himself only at number 17 on the list with just three studio albums released. The Chronic, 2001 and Compton all found success, with 2001 being his best selling of the three with 7.9 million copies in the United States.
Albums Sold: 24 Million
Early 2000s rap was really picking up steam on the mainstream thanks to its more upbeat tones and overall party vibes. One person that really spearheaded that change in rap music was Atlanta-based Ludacris, who had his debut album in 2000 with Back for the First Time. Luda became a staple of the 2000s, releasing six albums in total during the decade which was highlighted by 2001’s Word of Moud that sold 3.6 million copies in the United States.
19. Beastie Boys
Albums Sold: 20.3 Million
In 1986, a trio of relatively unknown guys from New York City released what would become one of the genre’s greatest albums, License to Ill. The Beastie Boys became instant legends upon its release, which was certified Diamond. Their success carried into the 1990s thanks to albums like Ill Communicaton and Hello Nasty, with another pair of albums released in the 2000s. Sadly, there won’t be any more Beastie Boys albums after the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch.
Albums Sold: 20 Million
The Atlanta duo Outkast (Andre 3000 and Big Boi) found themselves amongst the most critically acclaimed rappers of all time thanks to laying a foundation in the 1990s with albums like ATLiens and Aquemini. Both of these albums went platinum twice, but it was their early 2000s releases Stankonia and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below that launched their sales, combining to go platinum 11 times.
21. Will Smith
Albums Sold: 16.1 Million
Though some would put him in the pop music category, Will Smith was very much a rapper when under the moniker of The Fresh Prince. When combining his sales with DJ Jazzy Jeff and as a solo artist, Smith has done well for himself. Smith’s biggest album was 1997’s Big Willie Style that featured hits like Miami and Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.
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Albums Sold: 15 Million
Some would place Nas in the category of best rapper ever, even if his album sales don’t quite reflect that notion. Nas still had five albums reach number one on the charts and has been consistent with album sales throughout his career, with none of them under or overperforming the others. By a thin margin, Nas’s best selling album is 1996’s It Was Written.
23. LL Cool J
Albums Sold: 13.7 Million
One of the best old school rappers, LL Cool J released his first album back in 1985 with Radio and didn’t look back. He released a pair of follow up albums in the 1980s, and then had four more throughout the 1990s. All in all, LL Cool J has more than a dozen albums to his name, with the most successful being 1990’s Mama Said Knock You Out.
24. Ice Cube
Albums Sold: 9.4 Million
After going solo following his time with N.W.A., Ice Cube has released 10 albums, with his biggest ones coming in the early 1990s. Death Certificate and The Predator were among those albums, with the latter reaching number one and selling 2.2 million copies. The album also contained his best selling single, It Was a Good Day.
25. Master P
Albums Sold: 7 Million
The list concludes with Master P, the man responsible for the infectious song Make ‘Em Say Uhh!. It took some time for Master P to find his stride, but in the late 1990s released albums such as Ghetto D and MP da Last Don that sold enough copies to get his name into the top 25 best-selling rappers of all time.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
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