Last month, 50 Cent and G-Unit Records signed an exclusive worldwide distribution and services agreement with Caroline/Capitol/UMG. The move ended 50 Cent’s run with Interscope Records, Aftermath Entertainment and Shady Records, where the Queens, New York rapper spent 12 years and released Get Rich or Die Tryin’, The Massacre, Curtis and Before I Self Destruct.
Other high profile artists have also switched labels during their careers. Here is an examination of some notable examples.
Nas’ Album Sales History
Nas released his debut album, Illlmatic, in 1994 on Columbia Records. His best-selling album with the imprint was 1996’s It Was Written, which included the hit single “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That),” which also featured Lauryn Hill.
The Queensbridge rapper released seven studio albums and the Lost Tapes compilation while with the label. In 2006, Nas released his Def Jam Recordings debut album, Hip Hop Is Dead. It sold 785,000 copies.
The sales figures of Nas’ albums are as follows. (All figures below are in the following format: Album title, Label, Year, Sales Total)
Illmatic Columbia 1994 1,654,000
It Was Written Columbia 1996 2,595,000
I Am… Columbia 1999 2,178,000
Nastradamus Columbia 1999 1,262,000
Stillmatic Columbia 2001 2,179,000
God’s Son Columbia 2002 1,362,000
Lost Tapes Columbia 2002 361,000
Street’s Disciple Columbia 2004 724,000
Hip Hop Is Dead Def Jam 2006 785,000
Untitled Def Jam 2008 480,000
Life Is Good Def Jam 2012 380,000
Busta Rhymes’ Album Sales History
Busta Rhymes entered the game in the early 1990s as a member of Leaders of the New School. The group was signed to Elektra Entertianment Group, which also released Busta Rhymes’ first four albums. While with the label, Busta Rhymes released the best-selling album of his career, 1997’s When Disaster Strikes…. The collection featured the singles “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” and “Dangerous.”
Busta Rhymes switched to J Records after the release of 2000’s Anarchy, which, to that point, was the lowest-selling album of his career, with sales of 684,000 units. J Records released the Genesis album in 2001. It featured the singles “Break Ya Neck” and “Pass The Courvoisier” and sold 1,339,000 units.
After his next J Records release, 2002’s It Ain’t Safe No More, sold about about half of what Genesis sold, Busta Rhymes switched to Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope for 2006’s The Big Bang and Universal Motown for 2009’s Back On My B.S.
The sales figures of Busta Rhymes’ albums are as follows.
The Coming Elektra 1996 797,000
When Disaster Strikes… Elektra 1997 1,677,000
Extinction Level Event – The Final World Front Elektra 1998 1,648,000
Anarchy Elektra 2000 684,000
Genesis J 2001 1,339,000
It Ain’t Safe No More… J 2002 678,000
The Big Bang Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope 2006 626,000
Back On My B.S. Universal Motown 2009 156,000
Ghostface Killah’s Album Sales History
Ghostface Killah emerged in the mid-1990s as member of the Wu-Tang Clan. He was the last Wu-Tang member to release a solo album before the release of the group’s second album, 1997’s Forever. Released in 1996, Ghostface Killah’s Ironman album started his three album stretch with the company. Featuring the singles “Daytona 500” and “All That I Go Is You,” it is the best-selling album of his career, with 953,000 units sold.
After a three-year layoff, Ghostface Killah returned in 2004 as Ghostface on Def Jam Records and released The Pretty Toney Album. It sold more than its predecessor, 2001’s Bulletproof Wallets, and more than any of his next five Def Jam Recordings releases, clocking in with 346,000 units sold.
The sales figures of Ghostface Killah’s albums are as follows.
Ironman Epic 1996 953,000
Supreme Clientele Epic 2000 657,000
Bulletproof Wallets 2001 Epic 297,000
The Pretty Toney Album 2004 Def Jam 346,000 as Ghostface
Fishscale Def Jam 2006 339,000
More Fish Def Jam 2006 109,000
The Big Doe Rehab Def Jam 2007 117,000 as Ghostface
Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City Def Jam 2009 64,000
Apollo Kids Def Jam 2010 47,000
Mos Def’s Album Sales History
With Talib Kweli, Mos Def released the acclaimed Black Star album in 1998. The Rawkus Records project paved the way for Mos Def debut solo album, 1999’s Black On Both Sides, which was also released on Rawkus. It is the best-selling album of his career, with sales of 913,000. It featured the singles “Ms. Fat Booty” and “Umi Says.”
The Brooklyn, New York rapper’s next project two albums were released through Geffen Records, with whom Mos Def publicly sparred. His fourth album, 2008’s Ecstatic, was released through the independent imprint Downtown Music. Mos Def’s final three albums combined to sell less than Black On Both Sides.
Black On Both Sides Rawkus/Priority 1999 913,000
The New Danger Geffen 2004 513,000
True Magic Geffen 2006 97,000
Ecstatic Downtown 2008 168,000