The 10 Best-Selling Rappers of All Time
Rapping – also known as rhyming, MCing and spitting, is one of the most successful and largest music genres in the world, more particularly in America.
Rap originally dates back to early Griot traditions, where historians and praise singers would tell stories to the rhythm of a drum beat. Folk artists from the Caribbean would commonly tell stories in rhyme, which also laid the foundations for the rap music we hear today. It was later introduced in America by DJ Kool Herc – an artist who was responsible for the origination of hip hop music, thanks to his breakbeat DJing style.
Having said this, Herc never went on to record in the commercial hip hop scene. Have you ever wondered which rap artist sold the most records? Find out who the best selling rappers of all time are:
Records sold: 75 million
Tupac Shakur’s was so successful, that he was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry – a list of sound recordings holding tracks that are culturally or aesthetically relevant to life in the United States. Outside music production, Tupac is an accomplished actor having starred in Poetic Justice, Juice and Gang Related. Rolling Stone cites Tupac in the list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
The Black Eyed Peas
Records sold: 75 million
The Black Eyed Peas consists of artists will.i.am, aple.de.ap, Taboo, and Jessica Reynoso (though produced the majority of their commercially successful songs with female singe Fergie). Founded in 1995, they only gained traction for their success in 2003 during the release of their third album. They’re one of the world’s best-selling groups of all time.
Their first major hit “Where is the Love?” topped the charts in 13 countries and their fourth album “Monkey Business” gained certified 4x platinum status.
Records sold: 80 million
Tramar Lacel Dillard, known by his stage name Flo Rida, fuses rap and hip-hop with EDM beats giving him a unique sound in the rap and hip-hop scene. He broke digital record sales for his 2007 breakout single “Low”, which remained number one for 10 weeks in the US.
He gained further success with his first studio album “Mail on Sunday” in 2008, which peaked at number 4, but his most notable success was producing international hit singles such as “Right Round“, “Good Feeling“, “Wild Ones“, and “My House“.
Records sold: 85 million
Trinidad and Tobago-born Onika Tanya Maraj, known as Nicki Minaj, signed with Young Money Entertainment in 2009 and released her first studio album “Pink Friday” a year later. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 and certified triple platinum status. She’s also appeared in other media such as film and American television.
Minaj has been called one of the most influential female rappers of all time. She’s has 10 Grammy Award nominations, won 11 BET Awards and 4 MTV Video Music Awards.
Records sold: 140 million
The triple-threat artist Christopher Brown (known more commonly as Chris Brown) signed to Jive Records in 2004 and released his first album “Chris Brown” (which included his first commercially successful song “Run it”) and it was certified double platinum, having sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
Records sold: 110 million
A child star, Lil Wayne (or Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) created his first song when he was only 8 years old, but his feature on the 2004 hit release “Soldier” by Destiny’s Child boosted his profile massively.
He was discovered by Bryan “Birdman” Williams and his success has only gotten bigger and bigger since then. At 17 he kicked off his solo career, and in 2012 he gained the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with 109 songs. His most commercially successful album was “Tha Carter III” which included singles “Lollipop”, “A Milli” and “Got Money”
Records sold: 125 million
Most of us know Shawn Corey Carter (Jay-Z) as Beyoncé’s husband, however, he’s one of the most acclaimed rappers of the century. He holds 22 Grammy Awards, the most held by any rapper with thanks to songs like “Ni**as In Paris”, “99 Problems” and “Empire State of Mind”.
He received a “Salute to Industry Icons Award” at the 60th Grammy Awards back in 2017 and became the first rapper to be honored at the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. He’s commonly cited as one of the greatest rappers alongside Tupac, Notorious B.I.G and Eminem.
Records sold: 135 million
The diverse beats and ever-evolving musical style is what made Kanye Omari West one of the most critically acclaimed musicians of our time.
Kanye is known for working within many other industries such as fashion, acting, and politics. He’s won 21 Grammy awards – the most out of artists in his generation. Three of his albums were enlisted on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world on two occasions (2005 and 2015).
Records sold: 150 million
Originally an actor on the teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation”, Drake embarked on a solo career in 2007. He debuted his first studio album “Thank me Later” in 2010, which topped the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum. 2011 saw the release of “ Take Care”, which won him his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
It wasn’t until his fourth album, “Views”, that he gained the majority of his commercial success. The album broke several chart records and topped the Billboard 200 for 13 non consecutive weeks.
Records sold: 220 million
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka Eminem and “Kind of Hip Hop”, is known as the best selling solo rapper of all time, and one of the largest selling musicians of the century. Eminem’s LP “The Marshall Mathers” sold almost 11 million copies in the USA alone. He’s had 10 number-one albums (9 of which debut on the Billboard 200 consecutively) and 5 number one singles.
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