When you’re talking about the best-selling albums in music history, the entire top of the list is dominated by pop and rock music. That doesn’t mean hip-hop is completely gone from the list, though. There have been many albums from the genre to sell millions of copies and make their way to the all-time list.
Almost all of the best-selling albums come from a time where downloading songs to your phone or watching the videos on YouTube wasn’t available. That means that the list is probably never going to change. With that said, here are the five best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. Did you own any of the albums on this list?
5. Greatest Hits by Tupac Shakur
Following the death of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur, a compilation album was created to honor his legacy, which included four previously unreleased songs as well as the single “California Love”. Like any greatest hits compilation album, this one doesn’t have any slow moments when going through the tracks, which starts off with “Keep Ya Head Up” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”.
All in all, there are 25 tracks on “Greatest Hits”, and it peaked at number three on the Billboard 200. However, the album would see sustained sales throughout the years and eventually reached diamond status more than a decade after its initial release. Even in 2019 through 2022, it was at the year-end Billboard chart inside of the top 200.
4. Life After Death by Notorious B.I.G.
Just like Tupac’s “Greatest Hits”, “Life After Death” came out following the murder of Notorious B.I.G., but it was only a couple of weeks after his tragic death. “Life After Death” is considered by some to be among the greatest hip-hop albums ever made, and was a showcase of a man who got taken down during his peak.
“Life After Death” features songs including “Hypnotize”, “Mo Money Mo Problems” and “Going Back to Cali” which all turned out to be radio hits. The album peaked at number one in 1997 and was at the eighth spot on the year-end charts, while also finding its way to the top 100 of the decade-end charts.
3. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast
Back in 2003-04, you couldn’t go for more than 10 minutes without hearing a song from Outkast’s album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”. Whether it was the notoriously infectious “Hey Ya!” or “The Way You Move” to the more niche songs like “Ghetto Musick” and “Roses”, the album was unstoppable when released.
The album easily made its way to number one on the Billboard Charts in the United States and performed well in just about every other major market. For the entire 2000s decade, it finished inside of the top 35. That’s certainly cooler than being cool.
2. The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem
The top two-selling albums in hip-hop history came from one man, and you probably already guessed who it was from the very beginning. Of course, Eminem is that man, and the Detroit native was able to go certified diamond with his sophomore major label album. Following the success of 1999’s “The Slim Shady LP”, many were expecting great things from “The Marshall Mathers LP” and it didn’t disappoint.
The first single released off of the album was “The Real Slim Shady”, which achieved huge mainstream success on the pop charts. This was followed up by more serious tracks including “The Way I Am” and “Stan”. There was a little something for everyone on “The Marshall Mathers LP”, which allowed it to become number one in most major countries and sell over 12.5 million copies in the United States alone.
1. The Eminem Show by Eminem
It took two years for Eminem to follow up “The Marshall Mathers LP” and he did it in a huge way with 2002’s “The Eminem Show”. Recorded in California and Detroit, “The Eminem Show”, much like its predecessor, debuted with a single fit for radio in the form of “Without Me”. And just like the last time, Eminem captured attention first then released the more serious tracks.
Among them were “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “Superman” and “Sing for the Moment”. “The Eminem Show” outperformed his previous ventures and all hip-hop albums in general, with a claimed 27 million copies sold worldwide.