Best Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time
One thing we can all agree on is that hip-hop has and will always be about competition; at both skill and commercial level. Your favorite rapper is skilled and has some tight bars, but how many albums have he sold? How many charts has he topped? How many downloads did his mixtape get? Those are but only a few questions that people ask whenever they’re having a hip-hop debate.
Some of these albums have been awarded 5 Mics by reviewers with hip-hop magazine The Source. Instead of stars, Source uses microphones with 5 being the “best”.
From Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC and every other rapper that existed in the 80s, to the 90s rappers and the fresh faces we have now, here’s a rundown of the ten best-selling and chart-topping hip-hop albums of all time:
All Eyes on Me
Record: Death Row
Year Released: 1996
It is one of the greatest albums ever produced in the history of hip-hop music. The 27 track album has so far sold more than 9 million copies in the U.S at a retail price of $9.80 (and resale value of $8.60). Chart-wise, the album hit the number one spot on the Billboard 200 and top R&B/hip-hop album charts. It also won the 1997 Soul Train Soul/Rap and R&B album of the year award among so many other prestigious awards.
Life After Death
Record: Bad Boy
Year Released: 1997
Released on Bad Boy Records, “Life after Death” sold 10 million copies at a retail price of $9.77 and a resale value of $8.50 in the U.S alone. The 24 track album was also nominated for three Grammies and some other esteemed hip-hop awards. Rolling magazine in 2013 ranked it 483 on their top 500 list of the greatest albums.
Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em’
Records: Capitol/EMI Records
Year Released: 1989
It is the only hip-hop album, apart from Beastie Boyz’s “Licensed to Ill,” from the 80s that made it to this list. Debuted two months before we ushered in the 90s, the album sold 10 million records in The U.S alone, thanks to the “You Can’t Touch This” single that made this possible. The album remained at number one on Billboard 200 for 21 weeks, and the top RNB/hip-hop albums chart for 28 weeks.
No Way Out
Record: Bad Boy
Year Released: 1997
No Way Out, which featured many artists signed with Bad Boy at the time, sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S at a retail price of $9 and a resale value of $8. It ended up garnering a critical acclaim value of 7.6 on the overall.
Year: Released 1997
Having sold 6 million copies in the U.S at a retail price of $9 and resale value of $8 and winding up with a critical acclaim of 8.4, Chronic remains one the best performing hip-hop albums of all time.
Licensed to III
Records: Def Jam
Year Released: 1986
The album was released almost the same time when Slayer was signed to Def Jam. It featured some hits including “You Gotta,” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” The death of Adam Yauch gave it even more boost, qualifying it for this list.
And Then There Was X
Record: RuffRyders, Def Jam
Year Released: 1999
It is one of the most thought-provoking hip-hop albums produced and probably the best from DMX. Launched on December 21st, 1999, the album sold 5 million copies in the U.S at $9 and garnered a critical acclaim value of 7.5 and topping some charts including Billboard 200.
Marshall Mathers Lp
Record: Aftermath, Shady, Interscope
Year Recorded: 2000
Produced mostly by Dre, Eminem, Bass Brothers and Mel-man, the album was released a year later after Eminem’s Slim Shady Lp. The album was mainly based on the rapper’s introspective lyricism that saw to it that he sold more than 32 million copies worldwide garnering a critical acclaim value of 8.6.
Record: Universal, Fo’ Real
Year Released: 2000
Country Grammar is one of the best-selling hip-hop albums ever produced in the history of music. With the production handled mostly by Jason Jay E, Kevin Law and C-Love, the album introduced Nelly’s style of music that fused pop-rap and Midwestern Missouri Twang’.
Miseducation of Lauren Hill
Record: Ruffhouse, Columbia
Year Released: 1998
The album debuted at number one on Billboard 200, selling 423, 000 copies within the first week and 19 million copies worldwide in total. The album received ten nominations and won five awards, making Lauren the first female artist to receive the most ordinate number of awards in one night.