Is OutKast’s ‘SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below’ The Best-Selling Rap Album Of All Time? Facts or Cap?

Is OutKast’s ‘SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below’ The Best-Selling Rap Album Of All Time? Facts or Cap?

Does OutKast, the iconic hip-hop duo, own the best-selling rap album of all time? Big Boi recently showed off his RIAA plaque announcing their innovative Speakerboxx/The Love Below album had sold 13 million certified units.  Fans celebrated with congratulations and declared the group owned “the best-selling rap album of all time.” Is this fact or cap?

BigBoi Celebrates 13 Million Certified Sales of ‘SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below

On the 20th anniversary of their 2003 album SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below album, Big Boi, one-half of the iconic duo OutKast, shared some exciting news about their iconic release.  The ATL rap legend proudly shared a video of him unboxing a plaque from the RIAA that recognized the critically acclaimed double album had sold 13 million certified units. He wrote:

“Special delivery just in time for the 20th anniversary 9/23/03… #speakerboxxxthelovebelow Over 13 million albums sold. (Diamond & a 3.5) What Are Your Jams? @outkast is everlasting. Stank You Smelly Much… To All Ya’ll.”

Fans celebrated and congratulated the groundbreaking duo’s success in the comments.  But controversy ensued days later when BigBoi co-signed a post by the Midday Live Show that pronounced the 2003 album “the best-selling rap album of all time.” Big Boi cosigned the post with his own repost writing, “Outchea like the air you breathe. @outkast is EVERLASTING. Blessed and Highly Favored. Praise YahWeh.”

The RIAA Accounted for US Only Sales Of ‘SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below’ 

While fans have recently hailed SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below as “the best-selling rap album of all time,” it’s important to examine the finer details.  The music industry trade organization, RIAA, which represents artists and labels in the United States, holds the answers.

The RIAA certification given to Outkast only takes into account the 13 million unit sales of the album within the United States and does not include international sales. This means that the SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below distinction only applies to the US. 

Therefore, pronouncing the title of “Best Selling of All Time” is a misnomer as this would require all sales in all territories to be accounted for.

The RIAA Certification Only Certifies Albums By Application

Additionally, the RIAA only certifies albums by application and for a significant fee paid by the artist or the record label.  According to RIAA Certification Audit Requirements, in the pursuit of certification, “all certification audits are carried out, for a fee, by the firm Gelfand, Rennert, and Feldman, LLC (GR&F) on behalf of the RIAA.”

This audit meticulously calculates the quantity of units shipped for sale, as well as those sold or streamed online, taking into account net figures after returns, for the entire duration of the release’s presence in the market per the RIAA website.

Contrary to common misconceptions, the RIAA doesn’t just send out plaques as “gifts.” These RIAA plaques come at a cost, with prices typically ranging between $350 to $450.  Per the RIAA website, “certification entitles the authorized record company/artist to purchase official RIAA award plaques bearing the trademarked RIAA hologram seal from RIAA’s licensed plaque manufacturers.” 

Therefore, there are likely other albums that have not paid or applied for current certifications but may deserve the “Best Selling” title.  This makes it difficult to state with absolute certainty whether SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below is the current title holder or not.

Are Sales of A Double Album The Same As Double The Sales?

To make the calculation even more fuzzy, the RIAA certification counted 13 million units sold of the Speakerboxx/The Love Below which was released as a double album. 

The RIAA’s mathematical gymnastics actually is based upon actual total sales of $6.5 million on this innovative double-disc set.  Ultimately, the certification organization determined that the $6.5 million units purchased of the double disc are the same as the $13 million units sold.   


While the debate surrounding the title of the best-selling rap album of all time continues, it is clear that SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below holds the distinction of being the “Best-Selling, RIAA Certified Double Album in the United States At This Time.”  

Is Eminem’s ‘The Eminem Show’ The Best Selling Rap Album of All Time?

“Best Selling” is a moving target based upon who certifies when and in what territories.  Many artists only certify intermittently on anniversaries and don’t keep up with paying the RIAA for an annual audit.  

For example, The Eminem Show, was last certified on its 20th anniversary in 2022 with total RIAA audited sales of more than 12 million copies in the United States only.  According to a recent story in Billboard, rap icon Eminem’s 2002 album was the second best-selling album of the 21st century with a staggering 27 million units sold around the world.” 

Outkast’s sales outside of the US only account for about 1 million per calculations from

Hip-Hop Faltering On Billboard

The discussion surrounding the title of the Best-Selling Rap Album of All Time coincides with growing apprehension about the state of the hip-hop genre, which has seen a decline in performance on the Billboard Hot 100 charts over the past year.

However, rapper Doja Cat brought an end to this trend in September 2023 when her smash hit single, “Paint The Town Red,” reached the coveted No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart. 

Hollywood Walk of Fame Pay To Play

The music industry has been likened to a game of smoke and mirrors with charts and certifications manipulated to create hype behind an artist.  The same has been said of institutions like The Hollywood Walk Of Fame. In order to receive a nomination for the prestigious star on the walk, a celebrity must pay a sponsorship fee of $75,000, which covers the creation, installation, and maintenance of the star. 

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