Since its emergence in the 1970s, rap music, and Hip Hop have conquered the world. Originating in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, Hip Hop is now being listened to in almost all corners of the world. And even though it has been around since the 70s, the 1990s proved to be the decade when Hip Hop really began to shine.
Today, rappers belong to the most successful music artists in the world. But there are a few rappers who managed to become especially commercially successful, selling hundreds of millions of records all around the world. The following list ranks the 10 best-selling rappers of all time worldwide. The ranking is based on certified record sales of singles and albums in markets that release these official certification numbers.
Note: For the overall Top 10 of best-selling solo music artists of all time, click here.
The 10 Best-selling Rappers / Hip Hop Artists of all Time
Eminem is the best-selling rapper in history. With over 200 million records sold, he is also the 6th best-selling solo music artist of all time. Growing up in Detroit, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem started his rap career at the age of 16. But it took almost a decade until rap mogul Dr. Dre finally discovered Eminem and gave him his first recording contract. It was the starting point for a legendary and unprecedented Hip Hop career. Despite his many controversial lyrics, Eminem managed to establish hip hop in the mainstream.
For his song ‘Lose Yourself’, which was the main song for the soundtrack to his 2002 movie ‘8 Mile’, Eminem in 2003 also became the first-ever Hip Hop artist to win an Oscar. He was also the first white rapper who managed to really succeed in the rap genre.
Drake is the most commercially successful non-American rapper. Drake Graham (his surname) was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and was first known as a child actor in the Canadian teen drama series ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation‘. Ultimately Drake decided to switch the acting world for the world of music. And he took it by storm. Drake has been one of the overall worldwide best-selling musicians of the 2010s and is now also the second best-selling Hip-Hop artist of all time.
3. Kanye West
Kanye West first started out in the music business as a songwriter and record producer. But in 2002 the Atlanta-born and Chicago-raised multi-talent turned into a hip hop artist himself. Since then, West became one of the most critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful rappers in the entire world.
Born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z started his rap career as a teenager in rap battles. Since none of the major record labels were willing to sign him, he then simply went on to found his own record label, Roc-A-Fella Records. Today, Jay-Z has become a successful billionaire businessman owning several brands in different branches, but he is still also the 4th best-selling rapper of all time.
5. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter (not related to Jay-Z), wrote his first rap song at the age of 8. His rap career then started in 1995 when he recorded his first commercial songs at 12 years old. Previously an A+ honors student, Lil Wayne decided to drop out of high school in his hometown of New Orleans and focus entirely on his Hip Hop career instead. And in this case, it paid off. Today, Lil Wayne is the 5th most commercially successful rapper of all time, worldwide.
6. Nicki Minaj
7. Flo Rida
9. Snoop Dogg
The 10 Best-selling Rappers / Hip Hop Artists of All Time (at a glance)
(as of October 2019)
|Top 10 Best-Selling Rappers / Hip Hop Artists of All Time:
227 million units sold
152 million units sold
|3. KANYE WEST
140 million units sold
125 million units sold
|5. LIL WAYNE
110 million units sold
|6. NICKI MINAJ
106 million units sold
|7. FLO RIDA
102 million units sold
|8. TUPAC SHAKUR
75 million units sold
|9. SNOOP DOGG
40 million units sold
34 million units sold
Top 10 Best-Selling Rappers & Hip Hop Artists by total units (albums & singles) sold worldwide.