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Best-selling Albums by Female Rappers of All Time

As the 50th anniversary of hip-hop celebration comes to a close, Boardroom breaks down the top-selling female emcees in history.

From coast to coast, 2023 marked the celebration of 50 years of hip-hop. Since Day 1, the women of rap have inspired the game, providing a soundtrack worthy to be put on repeat.

To round out the year, Nicki Minaj returned with her fifth studio album, Pink Friday 2. While it’s too soon to tell what the lasting impact of her newest album will be, Minaj stands as the highest-selling female rapper of all time, having moved over 100 million units throughout her career. She finds herself in good company alongside Iggy Azalea, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and more as the highest-selling global rap queens.

However, when it comes to the best-selling albums by female rappers, a trio of women from the tristate take over the top ranks. Boardroom breaks down the top five of all time.

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NOTE: Ranking is based on total claimed sales derived by industry analysts and reportage rather than purely those sales certified by organizations like the RIAA.

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday (2010)

Total sales: Over 27 million
RIAA Status: 3X Platinum
Top Streamed Song: “Super Bass” (758,922,551 streams)

After gaining widespread support as the most desired feature contributor, Minaj’s first studio album lived up to the hype. Pink Friday moved over 27 million units. The 21-track album featured appearances from Eminem, Rihanna, Drake, will.i.am, Kanye West, and Natasha Bedingfield. The top-performing track took the form of “Super Bass,” which has over 750 million streams on Spotify alone and joined the elite billions club on YouTube.

It took home the American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album in 2011 and was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album but lost to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which features debatably Minaj’s best feature on “Monster.”

Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint (2014)

Total sales: Over 25 million
RIAA Status: 2X Platinum
Top Streamed Song: “Only” (528,498,048 streams)

Never not hustling, Minaj also boasts the second highest-selling rap album by a female artist. The Pinkprint debuted in December 2014. Usually a dark period for the record industry, Minaj burst forward with her third studio album, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, moving 244,000 units in the first week.

The album’s single “Anaconda” surged to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)

Total sales: Over 22 million
RIAA Status: 2X Platinum
Top Streamed Song: “Starships” (998,560,146 streams)

Well, it seems that we’re seeing a pattern here. Minaj’s sophomore album rounds out the hat trick of top-selling albums. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded dropped in April 2012. It debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, moving more than 253,000 units in the first week. Thirteen years after the release, the top single, “Starships,” is inching towards the billions club on Spotify with more than 998 million streams.

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

Total sales: Over 20 million
RIAA Status: Diamond
Top Streamed Song: “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (402,750,614 streams)

Lauryn Hill changed the game for women in hip-hop. The former member of the Fugees released her first solo album in 1998 to widespread acclaim. The 16-track album took home five Grammy Awards, including serving as the first rap album to take home the Album of the Year prize.

Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy (2018)

Total sales: Over 19 million
RIAA Status: 4X Platinum
Top Streamed Song: “I Like It” (1,564,682,429 streams)

Cardi B burst on the scene and made an immediate impact. Invasion of Privacy moved 253,000 units in the first week to easily take over the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200. Ever since, The Bronx rapper’s highly anticipated debut album moved over 19 million units following its 2018 release. While the lead single “Bodak Yellow” has been streamed over 864 million times, its track “I Like It” took residence on the Billions List, netting more than 1.5 billion streams.

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About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.