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We Listed Every Rapper With a Platinum Album in Hip-Hop History

From JAY-Z to the 69 Boyz, all 136 artists to cross the one-million albums sold mark.
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Platinum albums don't mean what they used to. In the era of streaming services and download links, album sales are no longer the best indication of a rapper's popularity, but they're still remarkable achievements, and for nearly the entire history of hip-hop that platinum plaque was the truest measurement of mainstream success.

That's why when we debate the legitimacy of an artist or an album the P word ("platinum") always comes up. Like home runs or touchdowns for athletes they don't tell the whole story, they're the easiest, broadest, most direct point of comparison. But while platinum albums are so pivotal to so many discussions, there's oddly no publicly available master list of every hip-hop album to hit the one-million in sales landmark. Believe us, we've looked.

So for the past month and some change we have been creating that list, our heads simultaneously spinning and exploding as we compiled and analyzed a digital mountain of data containing every individual album to ever go platinum. Seriously, it’s been kind of an insane endeavor, but greatness demands sacrifice, even when you're attempting to be great at rap blogging. 

Before we get to the results though, some notes on how we compiled the information: 

  • We went through the list of RIAA certified albums and pulled out all the ones from hip-hop artists. 99% of the time that was an easy task, but occasionally we had to make a judgment call. For example, we're still counting the Black Eyed Peas as hip-hop although, let's be honest, they started racking up the platinum albums once they went more pop. Everlast's Whitey Ford Sings the Blues went triple platinum and was far from a purely "hip-hop" album, but he raps on the album and was known primarily as a rapper for the majority of his career, so he's included. Lauryn Hill's Miseduction isn't a "rap" album per say, but she's widely known as a rapper, there's rapping on the album, so she's included. You get the point.
  • All groups are listed as one collective whole, not broken down into individual artists, even when the group was clearly lead by one famous rapper. So the D12 album is credited to D12, not Eminem, and not Proof, Bizarre, etc. In that vein, we decided to count dual-collab albums as a platinum album for both artists since it was a one-time, special occasion album, not a group. That means Watch the Throne gave both JAY-Z and Kanye West one platinum album point. Finally, to use Eminem as an example again, we did not count compilation projects like the 8 Mile soundtrack or Re-Up at all, since those were more genuine group efforts where assigning credit to a particular artist or artists would be so complicated it'd no longer make sense.
  • Crucially, again, our source for this information was the RIAA, which is THE group that represents the U.S. recording industry and is THE most reliable and credible source of album sales information. So yes, we're aware that Wikipedia has other albums listed as platinum, but Wikipedia also once listed Eminem as dead, so you know, maybe not an unshakeable foundation you want to build on. That means that while it's certainly possible that this list isn't literally 100% accurate, we're confident that it's as close to accurate as possible, and we're open to updating it as credible new information surfaces.  

And with that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff. 

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Inside The Numbers

Total Platinum Albums: 316
Total Number of Artists: 138
Most Platinum Albums: Jay Z (15)
First: Whodini Escape (1984)
Last: Drake If You're Reading This It's Too Late (2015)

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The Complete List of Names With Number of Platinum Albums

As of October 14, 2015

  • 2 Live Crew - 1
  • 2Pac - 11
  • 50 Cent - 2
  • 69 Boyz - 1
  • 8Ball - 1 (No 8Ball & MJG album has gone Platinum)
  • Akon - 2 
  • A Tribe Called Quest - 3
  • Arrested Development - 1
  • B.G. - 1
  • Beastie Boys - 7
  • Big Pun - 1
  • Big Tymers - 2
  • Biggie - 4
  • Black Eyed Peas - 3
  • Black Rob - 1
  • Bone Thugs - 6
  • Bow Wow - 2 
  • Busta Rhymes - 5
  • C-Murder - 1
  • Cam’ron - 1
  • Chamillionaire - 1
  • Chingy - 2
  • Coolio - 2
  • Cypress Hill - 5                             
  • D12 - 2                                                     
  • DJ Clue? - 1
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince - 2 (Will Smith solo albums counted separately) 
  • DJ Magic Mike & Royal Posse - 1
  • DJ Quik - 1
  • DMX - 5
  • Da Brat - 2
  • Das EFX - 1
  • De La Soul - 1
  • Diddy & The Family - 2
  • Digital Underground - 1
  • Dr. Dre - 2
  • Drake - 4
  • E-40 - 1
  • Eazy-E - 1
  • Eminem - 8
  • Eric B. & Rakim - 1
  • Eve - 1
  • Everlast - 1 
  • Fabolous - 2
  • Fat Boys - 1
  • Fat Joe - 1
  • Foxy Brown - 2
  • G-Unit - 1
  • Game - 1
  • Geto Boys - 1
  • Ghostface - 1  
  • GZA - 1                                           
  • Heavy D & The Boyz - 3
  • Hot Boys - 1
  • House of Pain - 1
  • ICP - 2
  • Ice Cube - 5
  • Ice-T - 1
  • J. Cole - 1 
  • Ja Rule - 4
  • JAY-Z - 15 (Not including Collison Course with Linkin Park)
  • Jermaine Dupri - 1
  • Juvenile - 3
  • Kanye West - 7
  • Kendrick Lamar - 1
  • Kool Moe Dee - 1
  • Krayzie Bone - 1
  • Kriss Kross - 2
  • Lauryn Hill - 1
  • LL Cool J - 7
  • Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz - 2
  • Ying Yang Twins - 2
  • Lil Wayne - 4
  • Lil’ Flip - 2
  • Lil’ Kim - 3
  • Lil’ Troy - 1
  • Lloyd Banks - 1                                            
  • Ludacris - 5
  • Luniz - 1
  • MC Hammer- 4
  • Macklemore - 1
  • Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch - 1
  • Mase - 1
  • Master P - 3
  • Method Man - 4
  • Mike Jones - 1
  • Missy Elliott - 5
  • Mo Thugs - 1
  • Mobb Deep - 1
  • Mystikal - 3
  • N.W.A - 3
  • Nappy Roots - 1
  • Nas - 7
  • Naughty By Nature - 2
  • Nelly - 5
  • Nicki Minaj - 2
  • Onyx - 1
  • OutKast - 7
  • Paul Wall - 1
  • Public Enemy - 3
  • Redman - 2 (Including joint LP with Method Man)
  • Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - 1
  • Ruff Ryders - 1                                         
  • Run-DMC - 3
  • Salt ’N Pepa - 3
  • Scarface - 3
  • Shaq - 1
  • Silkk The Shocker - 2
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot - 2
  • Slick Rick - 1
  • Snoop Dogg - 8
  • St. Lunatics - 1
  • T.I. - 5
  • TRU - 1
  • Tha Dogg Pound - 1
  • The D.O.C. - 1
  • The Fugees - 1
  • The L.O.X. - 1
  • The Roots - 1
  • Three 6 Mafia - 2
  • Timbaland & Magoo - 1
  • Timbaland - 1
  • Tone-Loc - 1
  • Too Short - 6
  • Trick Daddy - 1
  • Twista - 1
  • Vanilla Ice - 1
  • Warren G - 1                                                  
  • Westside Connection - 1
  • Whodini - 1
  • Will Smith - 2
  • Wu-Tang Clan - 3
  • Wyclef - 2
  • Xzibit - 1
  • Young Buck - 1
  • Young Jeezy - 2
  • Young MC - 1                                                  

Well there you have it, a list of every single platinum artist in hip-hop’s illustrious history; shout out to Marky Mark and Shaq. Even in the broadest of scopes there is some great nuggets here. It really shows that a lot of people can stumble into a platinum album, some might catch and wave and have two, but by the time you get to four or five platinum albums you're in rarified air. Did you realize Snoop Dogg has more platinum albums than Kanye and as many as Eminem? Ja Rule has four platinum albums?! Frankly, I have no idea who DJ Magic Mike is, and I also didn't realize that Bone Thugs had six platinum albums, which trumps Biggie’s four. Again, while platinum albums break down as a point of comparison between generations more recently—it looks like the '90s really were a magical time where you could go platinum off one hit single—it does give us a fascinating overview of hip-hop history. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be really going inside the numbers, dissecting them in a number of ways and giving you more food for thought. This list is a gateway into some really interesting conversations about anything from regions to years to the careers of individual artists to specific albums. Keep it locked, we're just getting started. 

Seriously though, the 69 Boyz have a platinum album. Hip-hop is the greatest.

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