Nas' Album Sales: From "Illmatic" To "Life Is Good"

As "Illmatic" celebrates its 20-year anniversary, HipHopDX reports on Nas' sales figures for the artist's solo studio albums.

Nas' debut album, Illlmatic, which was released 20 years ago today (April 19, 1994), is one of, if not his most celebrated project yet. The album, which was released via Columbia Records, is not his best-selling effort, however. That honor goes to 1996's It Was Written

HipHopDX looked into the sales figures for all of Nas' solo studio albums. The Queensbridge emcee's solo work has included several sets, including his most recent project, Life Is Good

Sales figures for Nas' Illmatic XX have not been released, therefore the project is not included. The effort, which includes remixes of the emcee's 1994 debut album, received a 3 out of 5 in its HipHopDX review. "For the last 20 years, Nas has both run from and back to Illmatic," HipHopDX said in its review of the project. "He’s mocked Golden Era romanticists rhyming, 'They thought I’d make another Illmatic, but it’s always forward I’m moving / Never backwards stupid, here’s another classic' on an album whose very title, Stillmatic, incorporated the name of his crowning artistic achievement. Now, two decades removed from his debut, Sony/Columbia offers a re-release of Illmatic. The inherent trouble with such reflections is that without new perspectives, they’re essentially overpriced reminders of the source material. This is where Illmatic XX resides."

The sales figures of Nas’ albums are as follows, as of March 2014. 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

RELATED: Nas - Illmatic XX [Review]

194 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Nas the greatest ever!!!

  • BLUEMGK

    ...this is only domestic sales, why not include WORLDWIDE SALES , i mean thats what really matters when thinking "total" sales... hmph. nontheless for a man going 20 years , very impressive and "LIFE IS GOOD" is a great fuckn album with high replay value.

  • Rozay O'Donnell

    If you really want something original to add to your album collection, then I suggest you go cop that new Mastermind, available now in stores and on iTunes. It's truly a classic with no filler, no skits, all originality. Ross proves to us that he has a far greater penchant for picking beats than Nas'. Hopefully, when Ross reaches another couple decades in the game, he'll hire some up-and-coming producer to create "Port of Miami - 20 year anniversary", the shit will be an even bigger classic than it is today #bawse

  • Anonymous

    "The rise of pirated music just means everyone's music sales declined" Eminem, Drake, and Jay still go platinum, and their music gets pirated just as much. It was Nas's style that ran dry, plus his beats were terrible.

    • Big Barrio 18, E'z up to the homies worldwide!

      I agree 100%. The beats on Nas' albums after It Was Written (Nas' best album by far, you dickheads) are wack and he just got boring. But you know how the stans are... Nas could fart on wax and stans will still scream "classic!"... lol. I actually think Nas is a little overrated.

  • Ya boi

    Life is Good was great

  • Anonymous

    Em crossed dressed,talked about sucking mens dicks,killing his mom,girlfriend and all kinds of bullshit he cant get in the top 10. sorry. ps album sales don't mean shit!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    14 million strong....damn what a great career

  • Big mike

    its is amazing that he is able to sell this much with the type of content he releases. lets have respect for a man that tries to bring nothing but integrity to Hip Hop as a art form In rock/jazz the audience respects the legends that paved the way the urban audience cares about sales and trends similar to pop fans if we don't change our behavior hiphop as a art form will die its already on life support.

    • Carlos

      Motherfucking preach! Rap fans are the most disrespectful and ungrateful fans there is. I'll never understand how a Big Daddy Kane or KRS One can't fill out a stadium but the Rolling Stones keep packing em in.

  • P

    PLEASE REMEMBER, THESE ARE DOMESTIC NUMBERS ONLY!! IF YOU WOULD ADD GLOBAL SALES, IT WILL BE WAY HIGHER!!

  • Anonymous

    So i ask this question.Is it better to sell 10million copies once and fall over the radar into oblivion or to sell 1million+ copies 10 times and keep acceptable relevance to the culture?

    • Dentaldamboy

      Well if it is 50 cent or Jay's career,I go for Jay-Z. He has over 11 albums and each one has sold over 2million copies each. Cant say the same for Curtis. So 1million+ 10times.

    • Bruthadee

      1million+ 10x

    • Anonymous

      I go selling 1million+ 10 times and hv relevance in the culture.

    • Anonymous

      Essentially u asking if someone would want 50 Cent's career or Jay-Z's right? Well too easy. I go for Jay-Z's career. I would go for selling 1million+ remember people it is 1-MILLION PLUS(Which includes anything from 1million-3-to-4million)and hv relevance in the culture than to release an album that sells 10million and fall off in 3yrs.

  • Tee

    The lost tapes is under rated

  • illmatic

    This disgusts me. Fuck you Hiphopdx for even publishing this article. I've listened to Nas since illmatic and never attributed him to album sales. I base my respect for him off of the skill he has, the content of his music, complexity of his rhymes and his descriptive and poetic storytelling ability in songs. He is one of the best and over half of his shit fly over the masses because they are oo fucking dumbed down from the radio shit like 2 Chains and Chief Queef. It's ridiculous how we have to base greatness off of album sales. That is what killed hip hop, album sales and soundscan bullshit. Listen to the music for what it is. This article is made to create an uproar and argument, normally a Jay-Z vs. Nas argument on album sales. Nas is a legend, Jay is a legend, they both have made a number of classics in their catalog. Just appreciate the good music and don't follow these sites and radio hosts who don't know what the fuck they talking about. Good music is good music

  • Anonymous

    Life is Good only at 380k? and isnt Untitled certified Gold? like back in 08?

  • Nas the goat

    First of all this must be u.s sales. I'm sure it would be more worldwide. Shit, I own 3 copies of illmatic. On a side note. It's amazing how nas has sold 15 million albums total throughout his whole career in the u.s alone. And biggie sold over 15 million albums from just 2 albums. Ready to die sold over 5 million copies and life after death sold over 10 million copies. But in the end album sales don't mean shit if your talking about greats. And biggie and nas are 2 of the all time greats.

    • Nas the goat

      Actually biggies albums sold 17 million copies not 10 million. Yes it's doubled because it's 2 cd album. Making it 2 albums. That's why back then it was sold for twice the price of a single cd album. Your probably to young to remember that whiteboy. Battyboy

    • lcjiochjo

      life after death is a double album hence the double count fuckboy meaning it actually sold 5 mills google it whiteboy

    • bhjo

      sorry to say, but biggie (especially life after death) wouldn't have sold that many albums if he hadn't died... and you know it

  • listen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjiCkoJcpMI&list=UUJWUcqa4wEtW1RVOUGmohFw

  • Stillmatic

    Nas' brand of rap is for the intelligent and sophisticated rap fan... If you into all that bouncy, south thoughtless raps then Nas aint for you.

  • Akim

    Nas is the illest Mc in rap music , he has sell more records then your so called big artist in rap today . Like Rick Ross . Rick ross. Never went platinum

  • GUWOP LA FLAR

    Gucci Mane's unsigned career>>> Nas's whole career.

    • Jonn

      Gucci Mane the guy with the ice cream tat on his face or Nas the guy with God's Son across the belly. GTFOH

    • Daniel

      You just don't compare Gucci Mane to Nas! Nas = true Hip Hop!

    • Anonymous

      Aww look at that. Someone's craving attention by posting blatantly controversial and false statements. I'll bite. You're right. Nas' career is nothing compared to "It's Gucci"! Gucci is clearly the better story teller, lyricist and performer. In twenty years we will be discussing the Gucci as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

    • lol

      shit >>>> your taste of music

  • Ridiculous

    Top 5 MCs of all time in order (just my opinion): Andre3K, Nas, BIG, Pac, Em (honorable mention to Rakim) Now I think Em is one of the sickest MCs ever, obviously by his inclusion on my top 5 and if someone was to make an argument he was the sickest ever, I wouldn't say they were wrong. But how the fxck does The Marshall Mathers LP sell more than Nas' whole damn catalog? It ain't like Nas is an underground artist or some shxt. Damn shame. Happy 4/20

    • dbsaho

      jigga, prodigy and cube better lyricists than eminem??? bitch please, i mean i love those guys but when it comes down to raw lyrical talent they cant touch em. The other names you mentioned are on em's level tho.

    • Anonymous

      Eminem top 5? Wow. Where's Kool g rap? Rakim? Krs one? Kane? Masta ace? Jigga? LL? Come on man. I know you love Eminem. And you had posters on your wall and wore a bandana when you were younger but Eminem ain't a better lyricist than AZ, Big Pun or Big L? And he ain't better then the legends I mentioned before. He's definitely top 20 or top 25 but he ain't top 10. He ain't better than GZA, Pharoahe monch, black thought, Jeru the damaja, prodigy or Andre 3000 neither. And you still have legends like slick rick, cube and scarface which I would put ahead of him aswell. The old Eminem is one of my favorite emcees too. But he ain't top 5 or top 10 homie.

    • Detroitjay

      White people love Eminem. Lol.

    • Anonymous

      white people

    • Chief Queef

      White boys, duh.

  • paul blake

    I would have never guessed that Nas would have had three double platinum albums in his discography. That's impressive.

  • Jesus Of Brooklyn

    The Rise Of A King... Soundcloud.com/p-ez-2

  • Beats were weak

    Id take Nastradamus over Streets Disciple any day (Big Girl and You Owe Me off Nastramus are nas 2 worst songs ever tho)

  • Anonymous

    Don't care about sales... I just know one thing, Nas is the illest

  • Free Gucci

    BIG GUWOP sold 10 million in the streets. Big guwop is the voice of the streets nas is a fake queens thug,

  • Anonymous

    2014's 25k is like 2004's 50k and 1994's platinum. go to the billboard site and check the back catalogue of billboard 200 chart in 90's. almost every album on the chart has double, triple, quadraple platinum mark on it.

  • Anonymous

    HHDX, you guys should have whipped up a sweet looking chart or graph in Excel to truly illustrate this career nosedive.

  • Anonymous

    nas albums stopped goin plat after he tried jay-z haha BROOKLYN

  • Anonymous

    While Nas struggles to remain relevant and even go gold Rick Ross is consistently going gold every time and buying restaurants in every state.

  • resejhordan

    Lost Tapes was an ill album, his throw away joints are even classic

  • Sam Snead

    People get caught up in sales too much, most people are dumb and follow trends anyways. Jah Rule sold tons of albums until 50 came around,Bieber sells tons of albums,Vanilla Ice sold tons of albums,etc. longevity is also a very important factor, do you think people 15-20 years from now when they are re-releasing albums will listen to Nelly(another artist who sold a ton) or will they listen to Nas?

  • Anonymous

    Get Rich or Die Trying Shady/Aftermath/Interscope 10 million The Massacre Shady/Aftermath/Interscope 5 million Curtis Shady/Aftermath/Interscope 1.2 million Before I Self Destruct Shady/Aftermath/Interscope 436,000 - Queens Rapper Run u Ni99ers ask Russell Simmons 50 about to take over the game with Animal Ambition doing mad numbers with Smoke single already. Smoke already selling more than 'In the Club'.

  • 901DATSME

    It was written was Nas best album hands down.

  • So Icy Boi!

    Lil Wayne is the Nas of the late 2000's/early 2010's. Highly influential, yet critically derided rapper that will go on to be considered a legend someday. swag

  • Favour for a Favour

    Quality over quanity What Jay is better than Gaye, 50 is better than Hendrix etc

  • Anonymous

    Illmatic going to be 2x Platinum in five years

  • Anonymous

    i Am' cover is the Truth lol

  • John the Maniac

    All Nas albums sales more than MMLP1. Thats an accomplish for many rappers.

  • inCest

    compare those with 50cent numbers...and nigaz say fif fell off...smh

  • Anonymous

    Damn, nas put up some good numbers...

  • Anonymous

    Life Is Good Def Jam 2012 380,000 THATS IT 380k huh

  • Anonymous

    Rick Ross won't sell as much, unfortunately

  • Anonymous

    Lost tapes came out before Godson hiphopdx arrange it well

  • Anonymous

    Streets Disciple was a double album. therefore sales is X2 like speakerboxx

  • Anonymous

    grodt>nas total sales

    • Spencerspeakswisdom

      sales dont mean anything, 50 cent only sold because he was flavour of the month. 50 cent has only had a few great punchlines, while nas has been real throughout his career. Sales to content is like comparing Rakim to Miley cyrus to a 10 year old

    • Anonymous

      Nas is cool but 50 one album damn near sold more than Nas whole catalogue

    • Blah

      LMFAO...are u guys serious right now....i love NAS's music but comparing all his records against one album....LMFAO, we all now NAS dnt do numbers like that!

    • Anonymous

      Nas has sold 13.96M total, GRODT has not, nice try tho

    • Anonymous

      ^^ Not. 50 Cent has a better life. So 50 Cent > Nas's life. Stop trying to deny it fanboy.

    • Anonymous

      nas > 50's life

  • Anon1

    It's articles like these that take away the art form and lyrics. You guys could've analyzed songs from Illmatic or possibly said which albums were the most influential. Maybe touched on his production choices over the years or content within. But no you choose to do this commercial bullshit article to incite ignorant comments about relevance based on commercial appeal. You know it'll get clicks and why do anything remotely good intentioned for the hip-hop culture when you can just do this nonsense and rake in advertising dollars. Yes I'm ranting but DX shows no love to the art form and constantly praises commercial shit. I choose to go on this site because you guys usually have good editorials but lately it's just gossip and record sales.

    • MdotLOVE

      I agree that this site posts a lot of articles that are obviously for clicks, but you can't say they haven't covered Illmatic pretty damn well this week. They've had interviews and with AZ, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Large Professor; pretty much the most important people involved with Illmatic other than Nas.

    • Anonymous

      yea man i agree........ but there are so many people that equate album sales to lyrical skill

  • HHDX stupid

    Seven studio albums? You might wanna count again Andres Tardio

  • Anonymous

    Fuck this nerd. He grew up watching real niggas like Gucci Mane out the window. Big Bad Gucci is unlimited diamond certified on all his albums due to unlimited amounts of digital copies available.

  • Fuck Queensbridge

    It's official: Hip Hop DX is on Nasir's dick.

    • Anonymous

      That book flopped harder than Ross' titties.

    • Anonymous

      only the author would know but i saw it was outselling jay-z and 50 cents books on amazon when it first came out, theres screenshots around the web

    • Anonymous

      How many is "lots of people"? You're just saying shit without backing it up.

    • Anonymous

      lots of people bought it, when it first came out it was selling better than best selling books by such hip-hop authors as jay-z and 50 cent.

    • Anonymous

      So are you, always posting on every Nas article about some book no one even bothered to buy. Get a life.

  • Anonymous

    Nas career is 20 years deep, lets see where all these downsyndrome fuck niggas you 90's meth babies support are out in 20 years..... I bet 90% of them are in jail, dead or broke as fuck

  • Anonymous

    Godfather 50 outsold all of Nas'albums with his 1st 2 albums!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    While Nas struggles to find a table, ross and drake are hitting 5 star restaurants.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how everything after God's Son was a decline. Maybe people were finally tired of him, but for the most part that was still a good career.

    • co sign

      yeah sorry i was exaggerating but you know what i meant they would have sold at least 4/5 mil

    • Anonymous

      Only three hip hop albums have ever REALLY gone diamond The Marshall Mathers LP The Eminem Show Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (Do we even count this though???) All other "diamond" hip hop albums are double albums so they only sold 5 mill. Yeah I'm talking about: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Life After Death 2Pac Greatest Hits

    • anonymous

      diamond? i get ur point but thats a bit of a stretch.

    • co sign

      just look at yeezus and GKMC, with the amount of buzz they caused they would have gone diamond in the early 2000's... but instead they sold 1-2 mill

    • co sign

      ^this guy is 100% right, these days albums that would have gone platinum in the 90's are only selling 300,000 tops. It isn't hard to see that there are a fraction of the amount of platinum albums these days.

    • Anonymous

      Naw. The rise of pirated music just means everyone's music sales declined

  • One Mic

    Where's Distant Relatives DX that's a faiL

  • Anonymous

    Actually The Lost Tapes came out after Stillmatic then God's Son but I thought for sure The Lost Tapes reached gold and Streets Disciple reached platinum.

    • Anonymous

      lost tapes is not gold street's disciple is platinum because every sale counts twice for a double album. that's why speakerboxxx/the love below is 11x platinum when it only sold 5.5 mill.

    • Anonymous

      streets diciple reached platinum, double album sales count twice

  • Hine1949

    Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income... You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection... Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up... You can have your first check by the end of this week........http://xurl.es/idtv0

  • Anonymous

    Ross now sells more than nas.

    • the grza

      Nas 7 plat plaques, Ross 0. Only a few years apart in age, Nas' career took off in 91, Ross' career took off (if that's what you call barely going gold each time out) in 2006. It's no coincidence that Ross couldn't get his career going in the late 90's or early 2000's where getting in the game required real talent. He took off when the industry started letting a bunch of fucktards shine around 2005.

    • Anonymous

      Ross is consistent, thats more than Nasir can say. It's better to go gold every album than go from 2x plat to not even gold.

    • Inmate 11368

      Ross has never gone platinum. How do you not go platinum off that BMF single? Want to know why? Because he's a fat fraud and you can't fool the people. He does put out quality product, and his engineer deserves an award.... but if he ever loses the momentum he's gained.... It's over....because he has no background to stand on. It's only a matter of time.

  • NaS Won

    HHDX needs to post his worldwide sales. These albums have sold much more than that, especially It Was Written. I think his total number of records sold is around 25 Million worldwide.

  • Anonymous

    How did Nas lose 2.2 million fans?

  • L-Boogie

    Nas has been pretty consistent throughout his career. I'd say Stillmatic/God's Son was his peak commercially. From an artistic side he's matured with his content.

    • Anonymous

      "I'd say Stillmatic/God's Son was his peak commercially." Can you not even read? It Was Written was his best selling and sold 2,595,000

  • Jerry

    Two Things: 1.This proves this site clearly dickrides Nas and brainwashing you retards into actually thinking this guy is one of the all time greats. When in reality he is a one trick pony (ILLMATIC, THATS IT) and a loser who still is holding onto his EX-WIFE'S wedding dress like a punk bitch loser. 2. This site proves all you brainless stan dickriders like Har-Mageddon wrong. All you fuck ups say he went gold everytime. HA! Proves you guys are all ignorant losers. PEACE

  • Anonymous

    Lol Nastradamus went platinum....

    • Anonymous

      Nastradamus was poor compared to the high standards set at that time, but would probably end up one of the best albums of the year if it came out in 2014. Barely nothing out this year tops Nastradamus lyrically.

    • Anonymous

      The Firm album also went platinum yet was considered a failure.

  • Anonymous

    Aww that's too bad...Ja Rule 15 million sold

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