The 7 Hip-Hop Albums that Went Diamond

What’s better than going platinum? A diamond certification. It only happens when you sell over 10 million copies. An impressive feat, only 7 rap albums can claim the diamond label. 2Pac, Biggie… some of these names are expected, while others – MC Hammer for example – are more surprising. While we’re not saying record sales are a strict indicator of quality, it’s always interesting see Eminem and Biggie pop up on a list together. We’ve got an absolute list of the 7 diamond albums in rap, take a look:

2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, 1996 via Death Row/Interscope. 2Pac pulled Johnny J, Dre, Daz, and Quik onto a single album and, for that alone, the guy deserves a medal. He also happened to churn out a double-disc of some of the best raps to ever be squeezed onto a single album. All Eyez on Me is a testament to 2Pac’s famous enigmatic range. One moment he’s pushing “Whatz Ya Phone #” and the next he’s dousing enemies in confusing quasi-feminist rhymes: “I used to fiend for your sister/ but never went up in her.” It was a classic from the beginning.

2Pac’s Greatest Hits, 1998 via Death Row/Interscope. Does it really surprise you 2Pac’s been diamond-certified twice? A greatest hits album, one of the best-selling of all time in America, Greatest Hits is home to 21 of Pac’s most popular songs, some slightly re-edited for legal reasons. “California Love” also made its first album appearance after years of being a lowly single.

The Notorius B.I.G.’s Life After Death, 1997 via Bad Boy Records. “Mo Money Mo Problems” and “Hypnotize” are no doubt two of the biggest hits of Biggie’s career, and Life After Death is often dubbed a “landmark” in hip-hop history. It’s one of the first rap albums loaded with features, and marks a polished sequel to Biggie’s debut Ready to Die.

Eminem’s The Eminem Show, 2002 via Shady/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records. The Eminem Show recalls some of Eminem’s more pop-orientated projects. Justin Charity puts it this way: “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” “Sing for the Moment,” “Superman,” and “Till I Collapse” were the sort of Billboard hits that foreshadowed Eminem’s latest run of power anthems and Rihanna collaborations.” It’s one of his most straight-forward, consistent, and mature albums. It’s also worth noting that Eminem pulled off 10 million sales at a time bootlegging was gaining ground — an impressive feat.

Interscope Records
Interscope Records

M.C. Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, 1990 via Capitol Records. The first rap album to go diamond, and perhaps the least impressive on this list. Still MC Hammer had moves, and a choppy dexterity that paired exceptionally well with the dance floor beats of Don’t Hurt ‘Em. You may know him best for the commercial favorite, “U Can’t Touch This.”

Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers EP, 2000 via Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records. This EP houses the sheer rage and psychopathy that made us pay attention to Eminem. Marshall Mathers was created in a “two-month-long ‘creative binge’, which often involved 20-hour-long studio sessions, and was guided by the wise hands of Dr. Dre.

OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2003 via The Face/Arista Records. “Hey Ya” was a monumental single to build off of, but it’s only the beginning of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Another double-disc phenomenon, it also is home to “The Way You Move,” “Ghetto Musick,” and the phenomenal narrative “A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre.” And for those who were curious: runner-ups include the Beastie Boys’ Liscensed to Ill, Nelly’s Country Grammer, Will Smith’s Big Willie Style, and last but not least, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.