25 Best-Selling Rappers Of All Time

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This list reveals the best-selling rappers of all time. From the rise of hip-hop in the 1980s to the trap artists who are dominating the charts today, rap music has grown in popularity over the decades. 

In this article, you will learn about the most commercially successful rappers from across the decades. With the rise of streaming, physical album sales have been lower in recent years. However, a number of contemporary rappers still make the cut, and that is testament to their massive popularity.

Let’s dive in and discover the best-selling rappers of all time.

25. J. Cole

Estimated record sales: 8 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 0
Best-selling album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)

Following the release of his debut mixtape The Come Up, J. Cole began gaining recognition for his rapping ability and released two subsequent mixtapes. 

Catching the eye of Jay Z, the fellow rapper signed Cole to his record label and appeared on his album The Blueprint 3 in 2009. After featuring on several other projects, Cole began cropping up on several publications’ respective ‘emerging artists’ lists, launching him further into the public eye. 

J. Cole has been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Rap Song, as well as being nominated for several MTV and American Music Awards.

As one of the most popular rappers of this generation, it is no surprise that J. Cole is amongst the best-selling rappers of all time.

24. Ice Cube

Estimated record sales: 9 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 12
Best-selling album: The Predator (1992) 

Founder of the rap group N.W.A, alongside contemporaries including Eazy-E and Dr Dre, Ice Cube pioneered the sub-genre of gangster rap in the 80s. 

Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Sr.), while part of N.W.A co-wrote Straight Outta Compton, the group’s most popular album that defined the West Coast’s hip-hop scene.

After breaking away from the group, Jackson found success as a solo artist. Despite his first two albums containing multiple controversial topics, his third album The Predator was his most commercially successful work. 

Although the album was the rapper’s most acclaimed release, Jackson’s audience diminished and has never reclaimed them through his following projects.

23. LL Cool J

Estimated record sales: 14 million 
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 1
Best-selling album: Radio (1985)

LL Cool J (James Todd Smith) was one of the first rappers to achieve commercial success. His debut album Radio featured the single ‘I Need a Bat,’ a hard-hitting breakthrough for the rapper. The release of this album ignited the golden age of hip-hop and iconised Smith’s name. 

Throughout the 80s and 90s, Smith released a stream of successful albums which have seen him win 2 Grammy Awards for both Best Rap Solo Performance, as well as a further 7 nominations. He has also won 2 MTV Music Awards and 4 NAACP Image Awards.

Decades after his career began, LL Cool J remains one of the best-selling rappers of all time.

22. Nas

Estimated record sales: 15 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 0
Best-selling album: It Was Written (1996)  

Son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. 

The rapper’s 1994 debut album Illmatic received critical acclaim and was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2021. In 1996, he released his second album It Was Written which went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It remained at the top for 4 weeks, liked by fans for its more mainstream sound. 

In total, Nas has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards of which he has won 1 for his 2020 album King’s Disease

With record sales in excess of 15 million, he has a well-deserved place amongst the best-selling rappers of all time.

21. Will Smith

Estimated record sales: 16 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 2
Best-selling album: Big Willie Style (1997)

Will Smith, although thought of by most as an actor first, has had a significantly successful music career. 

The multi-faceted entertainer starred in the 1997 film Men in Black for which he recorded the theme tune. The track became widely popular, topping singles charts all around the globe. ‘Men in Black’ was featured in Smith’s debut album Big Willie Style which went nine times platinum and included his hit ‘Gettin’ Jiggy wit It.’ 

Will Smith has won 4 Grammy Awards, including two for Best Rap Solo Performance, 5 MTV Video Music Awards, and 5 American Music Awards. 

20. Beastie Boys

Estimated record sales: 20 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 0
Best-selling album: Licensed to Ill (1986)

The Beastie Boys are the best-selling rap group since Billboard began with 7 platinum-selling albums from 1986 to 2004.

They began their rise to fame after releasing a comedy hip-hop single, ‘Cooky Puss,’ and afterwards leant fully into hip-hop, touring with Madonna in 1985. After gaining traction with their tour appearance, Beastie Boys released their debut album Licensed to Ill which topped the Billboard Top 200 chart. 

Throughout their career, they have been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards, winning 3, one of which for Best Alternative Music Album for their 1998 album Hello Nasty. 

19. OutKast

Estimated record sales: 20 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 3
Best-selling album: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)

One of the most popular rap duos ever, OutKast have received both critical and commercial success, impressing listeners with their catchy melodies paired with important messages and dynamic lyrics. 

Upon the release of their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994, their single ‘Player’s Ball’ reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart. The pair continued to experiment with their sound throughout the 90s, releasing several more albums including their acclaimed fourth album Stankonia which included their popular hits ‘Ms. Jackson’ and ‘B.O.B.’

OutKast have seen much success, winning all but one American Music Award they were nominated for. They have also won 6 Grammy Awards including Best Rap Album twice as well as Album of the Year. 

18. Ludacris

Estimated record sales: 24 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 5
Best-selling album: Word of Mouf (2001)

Illinois-born Ludacris began experimenting with rap when he was just 9 years old. After finding moderate success as a DJ, the rapper decided to channel his talent into rapping, independently releasing his debut album Incognegro in 1999 which achieved local success but gained national success after a re-release the following year. 

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Throughout his career, Ludacris has collaborated with several artists, some of which are huge in the rap scene. These rappers include Lil John, Missy Elliott, and Kanye West who produced his hit ‘Stand Up.’ 

Ludacris has won three Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album for his album Release Therapy, and an MTV Video Music Award. 

17. Dr.Dre

Estimated record sales: 24 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 2
Best-selling album: 2001 (1999)

American rapper and producer Dr.Dre initially rose to fame with N.W.A, a gangster rap group formed in 1987. The group got popular by highlighting the issue of violence in their communities.

In 1992, Dre released his debut solo album The Chronic. The record was so popular, it won him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for ‘Let me Ride,’ the third single from the album. Through his record label Death Row Records, the rapper also produced Snoop Doggy Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle which was nominated for a Grammy. 

Dr Dre has been nominated for a whopping 29 Grammy Awards, six of which he has won, three for his rapping and three for his production work.

Dre is widely regarded as one of the best hip-hop producers of all time, and with over 24 million record sales, he is also one of the best-selling rappers in the world.

16. The Notorious B.I.G

Estimated record sales: 28 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 2
Best-selling album: Life After Death (1997)

The Notorious B.I.G., commonly known as Biggie, is widely considered one of the best rappers of all time. Passing away at just 24 during the peak of his career, Biggie’s lyrics were wise beyond his years, often describing his personal hardships. 

In 1994, Biggie released his debut album Ready to Die which was loved by both critics and rap fans. The record included his signature tracks ‘Big Poppa’ and ‘Juicy,’ and won him Rapper of the Year at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards. After his death, two more albums were released.

Biggie may be one of the best-selling rappers of all time, but he also holds a more important accolade, with Rolling Stone naming him the ‘greatest rapper that ever lived.’

15. Nelly

Estimated record sales: 29 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 4
Best-selling album: Nellyville (2002)

Nelly got his start in the group St. Lunatics, signing with Universal Records in 1999. Soon, in 2000, the rapper broke away to begin his solo career, releasing his debut album Country Grammar which peaked at No. 2.

Nelly is known for his catchy hooks, inspired by his local community which draw from his Midwestern upbringing. This led to Nelly becoming a seminal figure for country rap.

In total, Nelly has won 3 Grammy Awards and 9 Billboard Music Awards. In 2009, thanks to his selling 21 million albums in the United States alone, Billboard ranked Nelly at No. 3 on their Top Artists of the Decade list. 

14. 50 Cent

Estimated record sales: 30 million 
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 4
Best-selling album: Get Rich or Die Tryin‘ (2003)

50 Cent’s entry into the music world was dramatically cut short when the rapper was shot days before his debut album was due to be released. However, in a positive turn of events, after his recovery, he released a mixtape which caught the eye of Eminem who signed him to Shady Records. 

The rapper released his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin which received praise on all fronts from the lyrics to the production. After entering the charts at No. 1, it was clear 50 Cent had cemented himself as an important rap artist.

With millions of records sold and several awards under his belt, 50 Cent was ranked the 6th best artist of the 2000s and the 3rd best rapper by Billboard.

13. Snoop Dogg

Estimated record sales: 37 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 3
Best-selling album: Doggystyle (1993)

Snoop Dogg got his start after featuring on Dr Dre’s debut single ‘Deep Cover.’ Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle, released in 1993, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and featured singles that received critical and commercial acclaim. 

As well as popularising ‘-izzle speak,’ Snoop Dogg has an immediately recognisable voice and adopts a laid-back, smooth delivery. 

With an award nomination list as long as his arm, Snoop Dogg has been nominated for Best Rap Song and Best Album at the Grammys several times respectively, received 2 MTV Video Music Awards, and has been nominated for 2 Billboard Music Awards.  

12. Kendrick Lamar

Estimated record sales: 70 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 2
Best-selling album: DAMN (2017)

Although his career has not been as long as many on this list, Kendrick Lamar, over the last decade, has established himself as one of the most iconic rappers of his generation. 

Lamar’s rapping style drives a sense of progression for the genre, bringing it into the mainstream. He has helped bring rap to a much wider audience, making sceptics more appreciative of the skills involved. 

Even at the beginning of his career, titans of rap, such as Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg, could see Lamar’s potential and worked with him on Dre’s album Detox

Kenrick Lamar has won an impressive 14 Grammy Awards including Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. With over 70 million record sales, he is clearly amongst the best-selling rappers of this generation.

11. DMX

Estimated record sales: 74 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 0 
Best-selling album: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)

Beginning his rapping career in the early 1990s, DMX is best known for his aggressive rapping style paired with adrenaline-pumping beats. 

Despite his countless controversies and jail sentences, many consider him an important figurehead in rap, many viewing him as a defining figure of 00s rap. While others opted for a more polished look, DMX decided upon a more rugged, belligerent image. 

Throughout his three-decade-long career, DMX received several awards and nominations including 4 Grammy Award nominations, 7 MTV Video Music Award nominations, and one Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Album Artist of the Year. 

10. Flo Rida

Estimated record sales: 80 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 3
Best-selling album: Wild Ones (2012)

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Tramar Lacel Dillard, better known as Flo Rida, is perhaps best known for his single ‘Low.’ The rapper’s debut single was the longest-running No. 1 single of 2008 in the United States, remaining at the top spot for 10 weeks.

‘Low’ was also the most downloaded single of the year boasting over 7 million downloads. The artist’s success continued with his debut album Mail on Sunday reaching No. 4 and his subsequent albums also breaking the charts.

Throughout his career, Flo Rida has received a whopping 55 award nominations, including a Grammy Award, and snapping up 6 including the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Hip-Hop Song. 

9. Post Malone

Estimated record sales: 80 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 4
Best-selling album: Beerbongs & Bentleys (2018)

One of the more contemporary rappers on this list is Post Malone. Malone started his career with the musical group BLCKVRD which he formed after moving to LA. He uploaded his track ‘White Iverson’ to Soundcloud which caught the eye of rappers in the industry. 

The song gained the attention of various record labels, creating buzz around Malone. He soon found himself collaborating with Kanye West on his album Life of Pablo and has now released several albums of his own. 

Post Malone has been nominated for several awards including Grammys and Billboard Music Awards, earning himself a winning streak in 2020.

As well as being one of the best-selling rappers in the world, Post Malone is also amongst the most-streamed artists in the world today from all genres.

8. Nicki Minaj

Estimated record sales: 100 million 
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 3
Best-selling album: Pink Friday (2010)

Often referred to as the ‘Queen of Rap,’ Nicki Minaj’s style of rapping is often rather eccentric, incorporating accents, playing with her tone, and exploring lyrics both empowering and comical. 

Her track ‘Super Bass’ is what propelled Minaj into mainstream ears with the album on which it resides, Pink Friday, topping the Billboard 200 chart. From there, the rapper’s albums flip between touring different genres and sticking with her hip-hop roots. 

Despite sceptics, Nicki Minaj has proved that women have a rightful place among the rapping elite and isn’t afraid to experiment and push through to new terrain that others may be scared to venture into.

As well as being one of the best-selling rappers of all time, Nicki Minaj is also amongst the overall best-selling female artists of all time.

7. Lil Wayne

Estimated record sales: 120 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 3
Best-selling album: Tha Carter III (2008)

Lil Wayne was first signed to the iconic record label Cash Money Records when he was just 12 years old. Often cited as one of the best and most influential rappers of all time, Lil Wayne broke through immediately with his debut album The Block is Hot. His fourth album Tha Carter sold 116,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 5. #

In the 2020s, Lil Wayne is still releasing chart-topping albums. His album Funeral, released in early 2020, debuted at number one and features appearances from artists such as Big Sean and Lil Baby. The rapper has won a total of 143 awards with 211 nominations.

Undoubtedly, Lil Wayne has become one of the biggest and most successful rappers of this generation. With a staggering 120 million record sales under his belt, he is amongst the top ten best-selling rappers of all time.

6. 2Pac

Estimated record sales: 125 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 1
Best-selling album: Greatest Hits (1998)

Tupac Shakur’s career was infamously cut short when the rapper’s life was taken from him by a drive-by shooter when he was just 25. Despite his tragically short career, many regard him as one of the most influential rappers of all time and even those that aren’t familiar with the genre know his name. 

After his death, his Greatest Hits album was released. It is one of only 9 hip-hop albums to have been certified Diamond in the United States.

In 2002, Shakur was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame and was listed among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of all Time list. 

5. Jay-Z

Estimated record sales: 140 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 4
Best-selling album: Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)

Jay-Z is widely regarded as one of the most influential rappers of all time. Through his business ventures, he became the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire.

Inspired in his youth by soul artists, Jay-Z uses these characteristics in his own music, often using samples from their records. Channelling artists such as Marvin Gaye, Jay-Z’s style of rap is smooth and slick.

Throughout his career, Jay-Z has been nominated for an outstanding 577 awards including numerous American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Grammys. Of these nominations, he has won 266 including the Grammys Best Rap Album award.

4. Kanye West

Estimated record sales: 160 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 4
Best-selling album: Graduation (2007)

Kanye West, in recent years, has become known globally for his opinions on various social-political issues. Though many may be put off by his industry persona, West is one of the best-selling rappers in the world.

One of the areas where West shines is in his use of sampling. The rapper has a God-given ability to identify the potential of any track placed in front of him. His musical ability tapped into something many were looking for, making him Spotify’s 6th most-streamed artist from 2008 to 2018. 

Rolling Stone included 6 of his studio albums in their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time list, the most of any hip-hop artist. With an astonishing 160 million record sales to his name, no one will be surprised to see Kanye near the top of this list. 

3. Chris Brown

Estimated record sales: 197 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 2
Best-selling album: Exclusive (2007)

Despite a career full of violence, Chris Brown has managed to remain one of rap’s most successful artists, selling just under 200 million records across his two-decade-long career. He is sometimes referred to with the honorific title the ‘King of R&B.’

Being named one of the most successful R&B artists of his generation by Billboard, his cult following of fans enjoy his lyrics that depict a fast-living lifestyle. Initially, Brown stuck to a more pop-focused discography but broke through to rap in 2010 with his single ‘Look at me Now’ becoming the best-selling rap song of 2011.

Chris Brown has won several awards including Billboard’s Artist of the Year award. All of his albums have reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and three of his albums have topped it – F.A.M.E. (2011), Fortune (2012), and Indigo (2019).

2. Drake

Estimated record sales: 170 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 11
Best-selling album: Views (2016)

Drake is arguably the most popular rapper in the world today. As well as being one of the best-selling rappers of all time, he is also amongst the most-streamed artists in the world.

Drake is known for incorporating and popularising singing within hip-hop tracks. With his first three albums all gaining critical success, his triumphs only continued with his fourth album Views spending thirteen non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart. Drake’s following two albums spawned several more No. 1 hits and was nominated, and won, several awards. 

Citing many of the artists on this list as his influences – including Jay-Z, Kanye, The Notorious B.I.G. and OutKast’s André 3000 – Drake’s genre has been described as pop-rap, drawing on the egotistical lyrics often featured in modern pop music. This branch into pop music has made him hugely accessible to Gen Z.

1. Eminem

Estimated record sales: 220 million
Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 singles: 5
Best-selling album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

With record sales approaching a quarter of a billion, it is no great surprise that Eminem claims the title of the best-selling rapper of all time.

Often credited amongst the best rappers of all time, Eminem’s discography covers a huge range of topics and genres spanning from cutting tracks about social issues, to comedy songs that feature his alter ego.

Becoming the best-selling music artist in the United States of the 2000s, the rapper received Billboard’s Artist of the Decade honour and Rolling Stone named him in their 100 Greatest of all Time list.

Eminem has a total of 150 awards under his belt including the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album which he won consecutively for three albums, the first artist to do so.

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