Hip Hop is a creative art that was first discovered in the 1980s and gained massive popularity, gradually, thereafter. Artists didn't make a lot of money from album sales initially. After the genre was capable of penetrating to a larger audience, commercialization followed. This brought about a large demand for the music which translated to unimaginable revenue for the artist, record labels and other key players in the industry.
When listing the top 10 bestselling albums, in Hip Hop, personal tastes and preferences are usually not considered. This can easily lead to a biased point of view and consequently an erroneous analysis. What matters most, on that note, is the number of units the artist(s) have been able to push since the original launch, the resale value of the album and critics point of view. Taking all these factors under consideration, here is the list:
11 Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life Jay-Z
Released in 29th September, 1998, this album has been able to remain relevant to date. The 14 track album has sold 5 million copies and its resale value is currently at $7.45. Jay Z, one of the veteran rappers from New York, was definitely successful in appealing to both his fans and the critics with Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life which received a critical acclaim of 8.3 (out of 10).
10 The Score Fugees
Hip Hop enthusiasts will argue that this album deserved to be in a better spot. Truthfully speaking, it’s one of the classics that were released during the prime of Hip Hop—The 90s era when the genre was at its peak. Pras, Wycleff and Lauryn Hill did an exceptional job. Released under the Ruffhouse Records label in 1996, The Score has managed to sell over 6 million copies to date. The initial value was $8 and the resale value is currently at $7.19. The 16 track album was able to receive an amazing 9.4 (out of 10) acclaim from the critics. This is actually the highest score on this list.
9 Country Grammar Nelly
When Nelly first hit the scene, his single, off this album, Country Grammar, immediately received massive airplay. The album was then officially released in 2000 under the Universal Records label. It sold 8 million copies at $8.83 per copy. At the present moment, the resale value is at $8.25. The 17-track album received a 7.5 (out of 10) critical acclaim value.
7 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Ripples in the Fugees Camp saw the birth of Lauryn Hill as a solo artist. Two years after the release of critically acclaimed The Score, this revolutionary singer and rapper emerged in the limelight once again with this 16 track album. Released by Ruffhouse Records in 25th August, 1998, the album managed to sell 8 million copies at $9.03. Currently, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is retailing at $7.99. It received a critical acclaim value of 8.9 (out of 10).
6 The Marshal Mathers LP Eminem
After teaming up with his partner in rhyme, the legendary Dr Dre, yet again, in his sophomore album, Eminem released The Marshal Mathers LP in the year 2000. The 18 track album sold 9 million copies worldwide while retailing at $9. At the moment, its resale value is $8. It managed a critical acclaim value of 8.7 (out of 10).
5 …And Then There Was X DMX
Released by Ral Records, this album is undoubtedly one of the deepest and thought provoking in the history of Hip Hop. It’s probably the best that DMX has ever released as an artist. It was launched in 21st December, 1999 and managed to sell 5 million copies. It retailed at $9 then but its resale value is at $8 now. The 18 track album received a 7.5 (out of 10) critical acclaim value.
4 Chronic 2001 Dr. Dre
The iconic rapper-cum-producer released Chronic 2001 in 1999 via his record label—Aftermath Records. The album sold 6 million copies at $9. The resale value is presently at $8. The 23 track album received a critical acclaim of 8.4 (out of 10).
3 No Way Out Puff Daddy & The Family
Before Diddy changed his name, he was still a platinum selling artist. This album, No Way Out, was released on 1st July, 1997 and sold 7 million copies. It was released through his record label known as Bad Boy Records featuring various artists signed to the stable. The 17 track album retailed at $9 then but its resale value is currently at $8. It received a critical acclaim of 7.6 (out of 10).
2 Life After Death The Notorious B.I.G
This album was released through Bad Boy records, a year after B.I.G.’s death, on 25th March, 1997. It sold 10 million copies while retailing at $9.77. At the present moment, the 24 track album’s resale value stands at $8.50 and it received an outstanding 9.2 (out of 10) critical acclaim value.
1 All Eyez On Me 2pac
This album was released by one of the greatest voices in Hip Hop in 13th February, 1996. Through Death Row records, All Eyez On Me hit the market and sold 9 million copies. It was initially on sale at $9.80 but the resale value has currently dropped by a dollar to stand at $8.60. The 27 track album received a critical acclaim value of 9.1 (out of 10).
Well... there you have it. In case your favorite Hip Hop album didn't make it to the list, despite selling millions of copies, read on to find out why. Since there are albums which are usually cherished by masses but despised by the critics, the critical acclaim value is an important aspect to be considered. Not just sales.
On top of this, the resale value determines which albums can withstand the test of time and which ones cannot. For instance, Lil' Wayne’s I Am Not A Human Being album may be retailing at $10 at the moment but 5 years down the line, it will be worth less than $2. The analysis used here, therefore, is objective and not opinionated.