Rap music is a competitive genre that has been on the rise since the 1970s.
And no matter how you want to look at it, the genre thrives on commercial sales.
That’s why many rappers sing about fame, status, and wealth.
Whether they can back it up is a different story.
Below are the 30 best-selling rappers of all time.
From Jay-Z to Drake, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, find out where your favorite rapper ranks in the list.
Table of Contents
- 1. Eminem
- 2. Drake
- 3. Kanye West
- 4. Jay-Z
- 5. Lil Wayne
- 6. Flo Rida
- 7. Nicki Minaj
- 8. DMX
- 9. Snoop Dogg
- 10. 2Pac
- 11. Post Malone
- 12. MC Hammer
- 13. 50 Cent
- 14. Notorious B.I.G.
- 15. Nelly
- 16. Dr. Dre
- 17. Ludacris
- 18. Outkast
- 19. Beastie Boys
- 20. Nas
- 21. Ice Cube
- 22. Master P
- 23. Kendrick Lamar
- 24. N.W.A.
- 25. Will Smith
- 26. LL Cool J
- 27. Lauryn Hill
- 28. P. Diddy
- 29. J. Cole
- 30. Andre 3000
- Best-Selling Rappers of All Time – Final Thoughts
Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is one of the best-selling rappers of all time and the 6th best-selling solo music artist in history.
Starting his music career at 16, Eminem had to wait a few years for his breakthrough.
And that came through Dr. Dre, who discovered Marshall’s talent and helped him launch his hip-hop career.
Save for his controversies, Eminem is one of the most successful rappers ever, winning multiple awards, including the highly coveted Oscar.
His music broke racial barriers and influenced many upcoming white rappers.
Young fans know him as the “Toosie Slide” singer.
But 2000s music lovers will agree that Drake has been there, seen it all, and become one of the most successful singers throughout this period.
Born Aubrey Graham Drake, the Canadian rapper has taken the hip-hop world by storm since switching from acting to music.
Drake launched his music career in 2006 with his first mix tape, Room for Improvement.
His most successful albums came in the early 2010s and beyond, including Thank Me Later (2010), Take Care (2011), and Nothing Was the Same (2013).
His Views album topped the Billboard 200 for 13 successive weeks.
In 2018, Drake became even more popular with his Scorpion album, which spawned the chart-topping singles “God’s Plan,” “In My Feelings,” and “Nice for What.”
If recent figures are anything to go by, the versatile artist is on the path to becoming one of the most successful rappers of his generation.
3. Kanye West
How can someone be so consistently good yet so controversial at the same time?
But that’s Kanye West for you, one of the most commercially successful rappers worldwide.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, West came to the limelight in the early 2000s as a respectable rapper for Roc-A-Fella Records.
Convinced he could make it in the rap game, the American rapper launched his solo career in 2004 with his debut album, The College Dropout.
The album was a commercial and critical success, helping Kanye establish his GOOD Music record label the same year.
West wasn’t afraid to experiment with new styles, always surprising his fans with a new thing from his collection.
And that showed in his future albums, Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and 808s & Heartbreak (2008).
With 22 Grammy Awards, he became the joint-most Grammy-winning rapper, alongside Jay-Z.
Rolling Stone included 6 of his albums in their 2020 list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
West’s marriage with Kim Kardashian, his Christian beliefs, and his outspoken personality have attracted endless media attention, making him one of the most controversial figures in the entertainment industry.
Shawn Carter has grown to become more than just a hip-hop artist.
He’s a musical icon, businessman, and the face of hip-hop music from the early 2000s.
Like most rappers, Jay-Z began his career as a teenage rapper, engaging in those famous or infamous rap battles.
He co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records before releasing his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996.
Jay-Z’s combination of music and entrepreneurship has made him the first billionaire rapper, instrumental in the success of many artists, including Rihanna, J. Cole, and Kanye West.
5. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne knew he would go to the top from a young age, writing his first song at only 8.
He began his musical journey in 1995 at 12, joining Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the record label at the time.
He had massive success in the 2000s, becoming the face of hip-hop music alongside Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye West.
Commercially, Wayne is one of the best to ever do it, winning 5 Grammy Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 8 NAACP Image Awards, 2 MTV Music Awards, and 11 BET Awards.
Few rappers can boast as many successful Billboard hits as much as Lil Wayne.
And even fewer can brag about overtaking Elvis Presley as the male rapper with the most Billboard entries.
6. Flo Rida
Flo Rida, born Tramar Lacel Dillard, is an American rapper who rose to fame with his 2007 “Low” single.
His debut album, Mail on Sunday, peaked at #4 in the US.
He’s since released multiple hit singles such as “Wild Ones,” “Whistle,” and “Good Feeling.”
Flo Rida has earned multiple awards and nominations throughout his career, including the BET Hip Hop Awards, Much Music Video Awards, American Music Awards, and Ozone Awards, among the rest.
7. Nicki Minaj
We would need an entire page to discuss Nicki Minaj’s songs because the list is almost endless.
Some people love her distinctive, intense rap style.
A few admire her influence on black female rappers.
And the rest just love her because she’s Nicki Minaj.
But everybody agrees that she’s one of the most influential figures in the hop hip scene and one of the best-selling female rappers of all time.
Selling over 106 million album units over an admirable career spanning about two decades, the Trinidad-born American artist is one of the most successful singers ever.
It would be wrong to end this list without paying tribute to one of the greatest black male rappers in history.
Earl Simmons, or DMX, pioneered gangsta rap, spreading the wave from the 1990s to the early 2020s.
He debuted with Its Dark and Hell Is Hot album in 1998, following it up with a string of hit singles that would ultimately crown him as one of the greatest rappers of his generation.
His debut album sold 251,000 copies in just a week, and there was never turning back for the American rapper.
After decades of entertaining his fans, starring in films and reality TV series, and publishing his book, DMX sadly passed on in April 2021 following a cocaine-triggered heart attack.
9. Snoop Dogg
Snoopy’s career goes back to the early 90s after Dr. Dre gave him a rare appearance in his debut single, “Deep Cover.”
It’s fair to say the rapper made the best of the opportunity, quickly launching a solo career that has since seen him sell over 23 million albums in the US.
His impressive accolades include 17 Grammy nominations, a Primetime Emmy Award, and an American Music Award.
Like most rappers, Snoop Dogg has pursued a filming career, starring in The Wash, Bones, Mac and Devin Go to High School, and Half Baked, among the rest.
Tupac Shakur made history as the first solo rapper inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
He’s one of the most influential figures in the hip-hop world, with a career that deserved a better ending.
His lyrics often showed a rapper at the very top of his game, never shying away from tackling societal issues in a distinctive way only he could dare pull off.
When we talk about the trendsetters in the hip-hop world whose legacy transcends generations, Tupac is sure to come to mind.
No surprise he’s also one of the best-selling rappers of all time.
11. Post Malone
We aren’t sure if Post Malone is a pop singer or a rapper.
But for the sake of this post, let’s focus on his earlier projects, which puts him among the best-selling American rappers of all time.
He’s one of the latest rappers to make it to this list, only debuting in 2016 with his critically acclaimed Stoney album.
From his debut song “White Iverson,” to “Rockstar,” “Sunflower,” and “Congratulations,” the rapper has always captivated his fans with his witty lyrics.
Let’s try this again; is Post Malone a rapper or a pop singer?
12. MC Hammer
This will surprise many.
In many people’s eyes, MC Hammer might have been a one-hit wonder, but he enjoyed success with his other albums.
He’s best known for “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
But the lesser-known secret about this creative genius is that he was also an accomplished entrepreneur, owning a reputable personal record label at some point.
Ultimately, his efforts paid off, making him one of the most successful rappers of all time.
13. 50 Cent
You can always bet on 50 Cent to appear in the list of the best-selling rappers of all time.
And the trend continues in 2023, thanks to his Get Rich or Die Tryin’ debut album.
50 Cent ruled the 2000s hip-hop scene, releasing multiple #1 singles and successful albums that ultimately transformed his fortunes.
50 Cent’s other albums, Curtis and The Massacre received commercial success, and by 2007, he was already among the best-selling rappers in history.
That hasn’t changed today.
14. Notorious B.I.G.
Unlike MC Hammer, who might surprise many by appearing so high on the list, Notorious B.I.G. is the opposite.
Of course, he was one of the biggest hip-hop acts of the 90s.
And he might have gone on to achieve big things in the rap industry if not for his untimely death.
But Notorious B.I.G. will only be remembered with her two albums, Ready to Die for his debut and Life After Death.
His signature songs “Big Poppa” and “Juicy” significantly contributed to his success before his tragic murder in a Los Angeles shooting incident in 1997.
Nelly, born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., is an American rapper who began his career in the early 90s with St. Lunatics musical group.
He signed with Universal Records a year later and released a successful debut album, Country Grammar, in 2000.
The chart-topping album sold over 8 million copies in the US, setting Nelly on a successful career path.
His follow-up album, Nellyville, spawned the commercially successful #1 single, “Hot in Herre,” putting his name among the best rappers of his decade.
16. Dr. Dre
The list of gangsta rap pioneers begins with Schoolly D, Ice-T, and Tupac Shakur.
You are always sure to find Dr. Dre along the way, having risen to popularity with the famed gangsta rap group N.W.A.
Dr. Dre has inspired many artists, laying the foundation for a generation of rappers who adored the West Coast G-funk.
He has produced commercial albums for big-name stars like Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, the Game, and Xzibit.
Christopher Brian Bridges, known as Ludacris, started his career at only 9.
After a brief spell as a DJ, he formed Disturbing the Peace, a famous record label from the 1990s, and released his debut album, Incognegro, in 1999.
His first-ever singles to reach the top 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart include “What’s Your Fantasy” and “Southern Hospitality.”
He released multi-platinum-certified albums in the early 2000s, including Word of Mouf (2001), Chicken-n-Beer (2003), and The Red Light District (2004).
Ludacris has had a successful filming career, appearing in the Fast and Furious series as Tej Parker.
He’s also appeared in Crash, Gamer, and New Year’s Eve.
Ludacris is regarded as one of the greatest rappers of the 21st century, with 3 Grammy Awards, a Critic’s Choice Award, an MTV Video Music Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award to show for it.
Outkast is one of the best hip-hop musical groups from the 90s, formed by Antwan Patton (Big Boi) and Andree Benjamin (Andre 3000).
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the duo enjoyed mainstream success throughout the decade, spreading the Southern hip-hop wave countrywide.
As one of the best-selling rap groups from the 90s, Outkast often stood out with its magical lyricism, beautiful melodies, and good vibes.
They often experimented with different genres, including jazz, techno, funk, and psychedelia.
Their 1994 debut album, Southernplaylisticadillacmuzik, put them in the limelight, thanks to the hit single, “Player’s Ball,” that topped the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart.
The follow-up releases only increased the band’s popularity, helping Outkast make a name for themselves in a competitive 90s music scene.
19. Beastie Boys
Unlike Outkast, Beastie Boys was formed early in 1978 as a hip-hop group comprising Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, and Adam Yauch.
After enjoying mainstream success with their “Cooky Puss” single, Beastie Boys switched from hardcore punk to hip hop, releasing their debut album (Licensed to III) in 1986.
The hip-hop group has sold 20 million album units in the US, becoming one of the best-selling rappers of all time.
In 2012, Beastie Boys was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming only the third rap group to achieve the feat.
Unfortunately, they disbanded the same year after Yauch succumbed to cancer.
It’s hard to exclude Nas from a list of the best-selling rappers because he’s one of the genre’s greatest.
As a pioneer of East Coast hip hop, rapper Nas was one of a kind.
He launched his career in 1989, earning attention as the son of the famous jazz artist Olu Dara.
Nas only needed one album to announce his arrival in the hip-hop scene.
And that he did in 1994 with Illmatic, a widely acclaimed album that has since become one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time.
Nas’ follow-up album, Was Written (1996), was another commercial success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
The album featured the rapper’s best single, “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” further endearing him to the hip-hop faithful.
Nas might be remembered for his infamous feud with Jay-Z, but that doesn’t take anything away from his admirable career.
He’s among the best-selling rappers of all time, with multiple Grammy nominations, accolades, and entrepreneurial success.
21. Ice Cube
Let’s take a trip back in the 60s to Los Angeles, California, home to a gangsta rap pioneer, O’Shea Jackson Sr., commonly known as Ice Cube.
The hip-hop trio of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube often go hand in hand since debuting with the famed gangsta rap group N.W.A.
This also showed Ice Cube’s talent as a gifted songwriter, contributing to some of the band’s best songs.
N.W.A. often attracted controversy with its hard-hitting lyrics and extreme dislike of police.
In 1989, Ice Cube left the group to pursue a solo career after a dispute.
The rapper has always merged his music career with acting roles, appearing in 40 films, including Three Kings, Barbershop series, Ride Along, 21 Jump Street, and 22 Jump Street.
22. Master P
If you adore the Dirty South, you may know Master P, a hip-hop star and business guru who rose to fame with No Limit Records.
He built his foundation in the mid-1990s with the TRU hip-hop group.
After soaring popularity, Master P released his Ice Cream Man album, which produced the smash hit “Mr. Ice Cream Man.”
The rapper’s popularity blew up in 1997 with his platinum-certified single, “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!”
Master P has released 15 studio albums, besides a successful entrepreneurship career.
23. Kendrick Lamar
Very few artists can match Kendrick Lamar’s lyricism.
Or let’s put it this way, quite a few artists release a studio album, disappear for years, and still leave the fans begging for more.
But that’s how Kendrick Lamar Duckworth has made a name for himself in the rap game.
He’s one of the most prominent figures in the rap industry and will always be among the greatest rappers of all time.
Lamar’s recent commercial and musical success makes him one of the best-selling rappers of all time.
Niggaz Wit Attitudes, or N.W.A, is one of the best American rap groups from the 80s, comprising Arabian Prince, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E.
They are one of the greatest hip-hop groups in history, attracting success and controversy in equal measure with their detest for police and political songs.
Despite getting banned from many mainstream radio stations in their prime, N.W.A has sold more than 20 million albums in the US, becoming one of the most successful rap groups of all time.
After three nominations, N.W.A was ultimately inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
25. Will Smith
Will Smith is the true definition of a jack of all trades.
Born Willard Carroll Smith II in Pennsylvania in 1968, The Fresh Prince stands out with his various roles in the entertainment industry.
He’s one of the most successful rappers of all time with multiple accolades, including 4 Grammy Awards, a British Academy Film Award, and an Academy Award.
26. LL Cool J
LL Cool J released some of the most enduring songs in the hip-hop music genre.
He’s also regarded as one of the most popular MCs, always entertaining his fans with his versatility and fearless attitude.
LL Cool J is one of those risk-taking rappers who could go head to head with the big boys like MC Shan, all without losing his style.
As the 90s hip-hop era beckoned, the rapper released one of his most successful albums, Mama Said Knock You Out, a record that would help stamp his name in the music scene.
In 1995, he went a notch higher, releasing the Mr. Smith album that would only secure his place in the list of the most successful rappers.
LL Cool J’s entire catalog is packed with smash hits like “Rock The Bells,” “Jack The Ripper,” and “I Can’t Live Without My Radio.”
27. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill paved the way for many female rappers, becoming one of the most popular acts from the 90s.
She’s remembered for leading The Fugees musical group, setting the trend in a male-dominated rap industry.
Lauryn’s 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Whether a solo project or performing as part of The Fugees, Lauryn always touched many hip-hop fans with hits like “Ex-Factor,” “Everything is Everything,” and “Lost Ones.”
28. P. Diddy
Sean Love Combs, better known as Diddy, P. Diddy, or Puff Daddy, is an American rapper from New York City.
Starting his career with Uptown Records, Sean quickly launched his record label (Bad Boy Records), cultivating big-name artists like Usher, Mary J. Blige, and Notorious B.I.G.
P. Diddy’s debut album, No Way Out, was multi-platinum certified.
The follow-up albums, including Forever, The Saga Continues, and Press Play, made him even more popular.
The rapper has won 2 MTV Video Music Awards and 3 Grammy Awards, becoming one of the most successful American rappers with an estimated net worth of $1 Billion.
29. J. Cole
A rap master who’s remained true to his game, J. Cole has had quite a journey in the American rap industry.
Cole has done everything to rise to the top, be it his ‘sick’ lyrics, rap debates, or a little controversy.
His vast catalog includes six studio albums, three mix tapes, and a string of hits like “Lights Please.”
30. Andre 3000
Andre 3000 will be remembered as one of the best rappers of the 2000s, starting his career as an Outkast member alongside Antwan “Big Boi” Patton.
Shortly after coming together, the duo released their first album, Southernplayalistcadillacmuzik, in 1994.
This album spawned Outkast’s successful single, “Player’s Ball,” pushing the rap duo to stardom.
In 1995, Outkast has crowned the Best New Rap Group of the Year at the Source Awards.
Andree 3000 has had a successful career as a solo artist and as part of Outkast, appearing in several remixes, including Jay-Z’s hit song, “30 Something.”
He’s also become one of the best-selling rappers of all time, largely due to his association with Outkast.
Best-Selling Rappers of All Time – Final Thoughts
Hip-hop is one of the most successful music genres today.
And it’s easy to obsess about money and wealth if you belong to a competitive culture.
While Jay-Z is arguably one of the most successful rappers in history, Eminem still tops the list as the best-selling rapper of all time.
It’s interesting to see female rappers like Nicki Minaj climbing the ranks.
Fallen icons like Tupac Shakur remind us of what could have been if he were alive today.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 30 best-selling rappers of all time.
By the way, who’s your favorite rapper?
Are they on the list?