Hip-hop has progressed at an unfathomable speed since its inception in the late 1970s. Not only has the stigma attached to the genre been lifted, but it has now become a culture celebrated across the world. Although rap music is now at the forefront, the artform of graffiti lives on, and breakdancing has become a formidable discipline. Although pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa don’t have the Grammys or the platinum plaques, these individuals are ultimately who paved for African-Americans to have a voice. All the big shots and multi-millionaires who have benefitted from the culture are truly indebted to these ingenious figures.
Although the aforementioned are the forefathers of hip-hop, with every era, a new set of pioneers emerge to advance the culture and steer it in what is hopefully the right direction. Every generation produces its stars. However, irrespective of the fodder that comes and goes, the artists that shift the culture and produce music with longevity are the ones that get remembered. Each era of music, sonically, reflected the social realities. That has always been and will continue to be the genre’s purpose. Furthermore, as hip-hop spread nationwide, its various localised subgenres audibly mirrored their birthplaces.
Funk-influenced hip-hop that encouraged people to dance was perfect for block parties. However, as the ’70s New York block party culture began to fade, that style of music was no longer necessary. As funk became less popular and house took over clubs, the genre began to adopt a more electronic sound leading to the birth of electro hip-hop. This evolution continued with each sound having its primary figures. These bold characters who spearhead movements by thinking outside the box are often the musicians that produce the most culturally impactful albums and make music history.
Experienced critics can assess a record’s quality in many ways. Concerning hip-hop, they can analyse an artist’s lyricism, the album’s production and even originality by comparing the body of work to previous and current projects. However, nothing can solidify the quality of an album quite like record sales. Although many cynical, snooty critics undermine the ability of casual listeners to assess an album’s quality fully, it is fair to say that the public is usually correct. However, critics actually have the last say when it comes to accolades such as the Grammys and Billboard awards.
An album’s popularity is assessed by various bodies across the world, in the US, it is assessed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In the UK, it is assessed by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). What defines a platinum record varies between countries due to population size. The RIAA defines platinum as 1,000,000 Units. However, the BPI regards 300,000 as platinum. To achieve diamond certification in the US artists have to sell over 10million units. Due to its smaller population size the UK has no need for diamond certification and merely works in increments of platinum.
Hip-hop has most definitely had its fair share of platinum records, and even some diamond one too. Below you can take a look at the 20 best-selling hip-hop albums of all time.
The best-selling hip-hop albums of all time:
- 20. Dr Dre, 2001, (1999)
- 19. 50 Cent, The Massacre, (2005)
- 18. Drake, Views, (2017)
- 17. The Fugees, The Score, (1996)
- 16. Nelly, Nellyville, (2002)
- 15. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, (2008)
- 14. Eminem, Recovery, (2010)
- 13. 50 Cent, Get Rich Or Die Trin’, (2003)
- 12. Will Smith, Big Willie Style, (1997)
- 11. Eminem, Curtain Call: The Hits, (2005)
- 10. Nelly, Country Grammar, (2007)
- 9. MC Hammer, Please Don’t Hurt ‘Em, (1990)
- 8. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, (1998)
- 7. 2pac, Greatest Hits, (1998)
- 6. 2pac, All Eyez On Me, (1996)
- 5. Beastie Boyz, Licensed To Ill, (1986)
- 4. OutKast, Speaker Boxxx/ The Love Below, (2003)
- 3. The Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death, (1997)
- 2. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP, (2000)
- 1. Eminem, The Eminem Show, (2002)