The Diamond status first introduced by the Recording Industry association of America is a certificate awarded to artists who have sold 10 million copies of an album or single. While many hip hop artists have achieved platinum status (1 million copies) only the cream of the crop have achieved diamond status. So, if you’re thinking “What rappers have gone Diamond?” our editorial lists all the hip hop acts achieving this status.
It should be worth noting that we are focusing on album sales as opposed to streams. Streams can be a little difficult to measure as multiple companies measure streams as sales differently. To keep things simple, we are focusing purely on album sales which include physical CD, digital sales & Vinyl.
RAPPERS WITH RIAA DIAMOND STATUS
Album – Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em
As Hip Hop began to shape its identity in the early 90s MC Hammer was among the artists to bring attention to the culture due to the success of his single Can’t Touch This.
Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em was the top selling album of 1990 in America and one of the best-selling albums of all time. It is also the first Hip Hop album ever to be certified as Diamond by the RIAA with over 10 Million in America alone & 17 Million copies worldwide to date.
The impact of “Cant Touch this” allowed MC Hammer the ability to tour globally with 144 dates which grossed millions of dollars.
Album – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Prior to the release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below southern rap was often times deemed as country rap which was a subtle diss towards southern MC’s for not making much impact as the east coast.
Since Hip Hops inception New York MC’s had always dominated the game due to their unfair advantage as New York is the birthplace of Hip Hop and the number of talented MCs from the east were countless.
At the 1995 Source Awards during the height of the east and west coast beef, Andre 3000 would go on to make a statement which is still felt to this day and those words were “ The South got something to say”
Not only is the Speakerboxx/The love Below album a reflection of those very words but the start of southern movement taking over the game.
Delivered as 2 solo projects as one with Big Boi delivering the speakerboxxx and Andre delivering the love below.
Album – Country Grammar
Nelly being a prominent figure in the 2000s produced one of the most successful albums with Country Grammar. Released in 2000 the album included well known hits such as Country Grammar, Ride with me and E.I.
Not only is Country Grammar a perfect representation for hip hop music in the 2000s but the album also helped introduced the midwestern style to the mainstream. This meant more pop rap/ singalong music which garnered radio play.
In 2016 the Recording Industry Association of America awarded Nelly the Dimond certificate making it the latest entry to the list. So, if your ever-discussing what rappers have gone diamond, don’t forget to add Nelly to the discussion.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Album – Life After Death
Life after Death being Notorious Big’s 2nd and last album would go on to sell 10 million copies after his death. Singles such as Hypnotize and Mo Money Mo Problems being the 2 biggest singles of Bigs career became a huge factor in helping him achieve this diamond status.
While there’s no question Biggie Smalls would have been a successful artist if alive today, we also know that culturally important artists of this magnitude become even more significant after death which results in a spike in album sales. Biggie going diamond after his death is a testament to his impact and importance in music.
Album – The Eminem Show
The Eminem Show not only was the best-selling album of 2002 in America but the best-selling album worldwide of that same year being certified diamond. Whys that?
Eminem and Dr Dre’s co production, lead singles such as Without me, cleaning out my closet, Superman & Sing for the moment whilst being widely deemed as one of the most anticipated albums of the time.
In addition to this Em also achieved diamond status with the single Lose Yourself which was released on the 8 Mile soundtrack of that same year. Eminem’s singles and albums places him comfortably on the list of rappers who went Diamond.
Album – The Marshall Mathers LP
During the time of release The Marshall Mathers LP was criticized for its violent, homophobic & misogynistic lyrics and theme. The controversy surrounding Eminem’s album not only put him at the forefront of Hip Hop culture but instantly saw him become a controversial American music artist and if there’s one thing we know about America it’s that sex, violence and controversy sells. This is evident with the Marshall Mathers LP’s diamond Status.
The albums success outperformed his last efforts the slim shady LP the previous year by selling 1.8 million copies in its first week making it one of the fastest selling albums. The singles which helped achieve the diamond status were Stan, I’m Back, Bitch Please and the real Slim Shady.
Album – All Eyez on Me
At the time of release 2Pac was on top of the rap game with his newfound Label Death Row Records and Suge Knight was willing to do everything in his power to make sure 2Pac was seen and heard.
All Eyez on me is the last album before his death which delivered hits such as 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted, I Ain’t Mad at Cha & California Love.
To Quote Complex
“All Eyez on Me hosts 2Pac’s tremendous, notoriously enigmatic range; 2Pac is on here confronting #BlackOnBlackCrime, inventing mixed drink orders, and reconciling his feminism with his dick “
Not only is 2Pac one of the biggest artists to grace the game but his diamond status album is a classic.
Album – Greatest Hits
Released in 1998 by Interscope and Death Row Records Greatest Hits is a posthumous album that features 2pacs biggest hits during his career. To date it remains the best-selling rap compilation album of all time and continues to mark its place in Hip Hop.
While the album contains 4 unreleased songs the majority contains hits are from All Eyez on Me which in my eyes means it went diamond twice. Nevertheless it’s a win for Hip Hop!
Hop Hop is biggest genre of music commercially sold and consumed today, as times go on we will see acts continue to achieve the diamond status which will mean we continue to update our What Rappers have gone Diamond editorial.
The following mentions below have been awarded the Diamond status by RIAA. We have decided to group them as notable mentions due to the influence of streaming also being counted towards sales.
See you Again Single
God’s Plan Single
Certified Diamond (Streams/Sales)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Thrift Shop Single
Certified Diamond (Streams/Sales)
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