It has been around for about 40 years now, and Hip Hop has become a chart-topping mainstay of the music industry. Much of that is owed to the emergence of the hip hop greats of the early 90s, who helped propel the marginal subculture into the American mainstream. In terms of sheer volume of music sold, you can’t beat this list of the top-selling rappers to ever jump into the game.
It’s a well known truth that 50 Cent had a rough life before finding success as a rapper. His career hit a snag when he was dropped by Universal Records, but his perseverance led to his rediscovery by Eminem, a milestone moment on his journey to the top of the hip hop industry. He has sold over 40 million records in his career, and has made some amazing business deals along the way.
Another great rapper taken before his time, Tupac’s untimely death at the age of 25 didn’t stop him from creating a name for himself as one of hip hop’s all-time greatest – or from releasing seven more albums. Pioneering an aggressive musical style, Tupac had a gift for combining a desire for social justice with a deep knowledge of Shakespearean writing and storytelling. With his serious but uplifting messages, he was able to sell over 100 million records.
Though he only lived to the age of 24, Biggie Smalls has gone down in rap history as one of the best ever. A master of rapid-fire rhymes, Smalls was praised for his unique mastery of flowing verse, able to use creativity to enhance an uncomplicated vocabulary and take his work to great heights. He has sold over 30 million albums and continues to be remembered as one of the best rappers of all time.
Eminem found major success when he signed with Dr. Dre at the beginning of his career. Integrating humor into his songs to great effect, Eminem’s complicated, word-bending rhymes and clear enunciation have helped him achieve greatness in the hip hop community. Though his career was set back due to a long-running drug addiction, recent years have seen Eminem bounce back with the same fire he had at the beginning of his career. To date, he has sold over 100 million albums.
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