Thirty years ago on this day Run-D.M.C. were rewarded for its high sales, as its self-titled first album became the first hip-hop album in history to earn "Gold" status-which indicates more than 100,000 copies sold-nine months after its release. Hip-hop has come a long way in terms of styles and popularity in those 30 years, so the group's first album is far from the highest sellers in the genre anymore. Check out the current list of the bestselling hip-hop albums in history, from ten to one:
10) Get Rich Or Die Tryin' by 50 Cent (8.3 million)
As an example, 50 Cent's debut album sold 872,000 copies during its first week. Part of the success that the Queens emcee had with Get Rich Or Die Tryin' was his backing from Eminem, the biggest-selling rapper of all time. Fitty did the work however: "In Da Club" was the biggest single of 2003 according to Billboard, a rarity for hip-hop tracks even in the modern era.
09) Country Grammar by Nelly (8.5 million)
Nelly and his debut album entered the charts 235,000 copies sold, a total that would easily win most weeks during 2014 but only landed him at no. 3 in 2000. His album kept up its pace however and eventually climbed to the top of the Billboard 200 several weeks later. He also had a few singles to promote the album on pop radio "Country Grammar (Hot S--t)," which helped the album go triple platinum by the end of the year.
08) Licensed to Ill by The Beastie Boys (9 million)
Not all of the albums on this list are new school, although this Beastie Boys album is the only '80s hip-hop album to land in the Top 10 best-selling. This album goes so far back into the Def Jam archives that it came about at the same time as when Slayer was signed to the label (guitarist Kerry King is featured on the album). Still considered the brightest spot in the Beastie Boys' discography, it features hits such as "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn". It got another boost in sales following the death of Adam Yauch during 2012.
07) All Eyez on Me by 2Pac (9 million)
One of the most amazing things about All Eyez on Me, aside from the music itself, is that listeners were willing to buy such a large album in bulk. People just don't have attention spans for such things anymore. Granted, 2Pac had recorded such a bulk of music as part of a deal where he owed Death Row Records and Suge Knight three albums in return for bail money, but this is one of the few cases where so much hip-hop on one release maintained such a high critical standard.
06) Greatest Hits by 2Pac (10 million)
One of the most clichéd jokes about Tupac Shakur not actually being dead is the large bulk of new music released after his murder in 1996. Part of that joke stems back to Greatest Hits, a collection released during 1998 that featured four new songs packaged along with 17 other actual hits from his career. Tupac shares the unfortunate distinction with The Eagles of having a greatest its collection that's outsold all of his original LPs.
05) Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (10 million)
If any of you went back to check our claims that only one album from the '80s made this list, it was probably because you had Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em in mind. Indeed, Hammer's breakout album debuted less than two months into the '90s and sold 10 million copies thanks to the unforgettable "U Can't Touch This." Unfortunately neither the fame nor profits generated by this record prevented the emcee from falling into bankruptcy.
04) Life After Death by Notorious B.I.G. (10.2 million)
It's often said, perhaps by Jay Z more than anyone else, that no one appreciates your art until your dead. It's sad to say but The Notorious B.I.G. probably found this out firsthand after his murder during 1997. His second album, the spookily titled Life After Death, was released just over two weeks after his death and fans were eager to get their hands on it to remember one of the greatest emcees of all time. It, like All Eyez, maintains consistent quality across its lengthy 24 tracks (on the deluxe version that is).
03) The Eminem Show by Eminem (10.3 million)
Eminem, as mentioned before, is the bestselling rapper of all time, thanks to a combination of both his skills on the mic and way media focused on his controversy-baiting and, of course, whiteness. His third album included hit singles such as "Without Me" and "Till I Collapse," which interestingly provides a list of emcees that Em considers better than himself. Three of those rappers plus Eminem himself make up six of the albums on this list.
02) The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem (10.5 million)
Eminem dropped The Marshall Mathers LP into the perfect storm for racking up album sales: On one hand, all of the media he was getting for his controversial lyrics and skin tone made him undeniably popular among a white audience who might have ignored hip-hop otherwise. On the other hand, The Marshall Mathers LP is one of the most critically acclaimed hip-hop albums of all time, which brought in fans from other genres who were generally curious to hear his words. The hype was such that Eminem even broke Britney Spears' record for the best-selling week for a solo artist.
01) Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (11.4 million)
Perhaps a fact that makes both fans of Outkast and of hip-hop general flinch, the duo's last album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below—and not Stankonia or Aquemini—is the overall bestselling hip-hop album of all time. You can debate over whether Andre 3000 or Big Boi is the better emcee overall but there's no doubt that this album's popularity was driven by the former's singles. "Hey Ya!" and "Roses" (but especially "Hey Ya!") got lodged in the collective conscience of America like no song in recent memory, driving millions to buy it.