So far in the First Week Album Series, we’ve covered rappers like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kanye West and Nas. Now it’s time to cover one of the best selling and most successful rappers of all time – Eminem.

Ever since Eminem made his major label debut in 1999, there was no stopping him. Every album since then has gone to hit multiplatinum status and he’s consistently been amongst the best selling artist every year he drops.

From his trippy, groundbreaking debut, The Slim Shady LP to 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, we rank Eminem’s first week album sales from best to worst.


1. The Marshall Mathers LP

Released: May 23, 2000

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 1.76 million

It’s always rare when a rapper’s most critically acclaimed album is also their best selling one. Looking at past first week album sales from Jay-Z and Nas, it’s usually their best album that’s their poorest performing, commercial wise.

Not with Eminem though. When The Marshall Mathers LP first came out, it was heralded by critics and fans alike as one of the best hip-hop albums and definitely Eminem’s best to date. It was the album that established him as a powerful commercial force in the music industry and one of the best rappers of all time.

It also moved a whopping 1.76 million copies in its first week of sales, making it the fastest selling hip-hop album of all time, beating out Snoop Dogg’s record for Doggystyle, which moved over 800,000 in the first week.

By the end of 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP had sold close to 8 million records and as of 2014, the album has been certified diamond (10 million units) in the United States.

Eminem is still selling records at an impressive rate, and will be for a very long time, but during that ’00 – ’02 period, he was simply untouchable in all aspects.


2. The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Released: November 5, 2013

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 792,000

Every time Eminem drops an album, it sells. A lot. It’s actually quite impressive. While his albums had a dip in quality during the Encore years, commercially-speaking, Eminem has never gone anywhere and has never had to make a comeback.

So there was no surprise when he dropped the sequel to his most acclaimed and best selling album to date and it moved close to 800,000 units in the first week.

Powered by 4 diverse singles – “Berzerk,” “Survival,” “Rap God,” “The Monster” – The Marshall Mathers LP 2 destroyed the rest of the hip-hop competition in 2013 and became the second-biggest debut of that year.

eminem recovery

3. Recovery

Released: June 18, 2010

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 741,000

Relapse came and left and hip-hop fans were left wondering what happened. Where was that Eminem comeback album we were all promised? All we got were more silly celebrity jokes and more psychotic fantasies.

Then Recovery dropped and it started to make sense – Encore was when Eminem was on the drugs, Relapse was when he was flushing them out.

The first single, “Not Afraid,” showed fans the sort of direction Recovery would be taking – a more mediative and reflective style, not seen from Eminem in a while. Then Em dropped the massive Rihanna-featured single, “Love the Way You Lie,” which exploded like an atom bomb on the radio.

“Love the Way You Lie” became Eminem’s best-selling single, peaking at number one on worldwide record charts and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks.

On the strength of these singles, Recovery became another monster seller, moving 741,000 units in its first week and became the first album to sell one million digital copies.


4. Encore

Released: November 12, 2004

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 710,000

Encore is proof that Eminem can drop anything and his fans will run out to cop it. After the incredible success of The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show and the D12 projects in between, Eminem was running out of it steam and it was starting to show.

First there was the tired lead single, “Just Lose It.” While following in the same vein as previous lead singles, ”My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady” and “Without Me,” the track featured easy shots at Michael Jackson and paled in comparison to his previous cuts.

Then when the actual album dropped, it was clear that Eminem just wasn’t rhyming like he used to. In between gems like “Yellow Brick Road” and “Like Toy Soldiers,” listeners could tell the drugs were taking a toll on him and the sharp, witty Eminem was gone, for the moment.

Still, Encore ended moving 710,000 units in its first week and as of 2014, the album has been certified 5x platinum in the US.


5. Relapse

Released: May 15, 2009

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 608,000

Everybody was waiting eagerly for this album. It had been 5 years since Encore dropped and word was that Eminem had kicked his drug habit and was ready to rap again.

The first two singles didn’t do much to hype up fans – the Dr. Dre / 50 Cent-collaboration “Crack a Bottle” and the Kim Kardashian-bashing “We Made You” – were exciting to listen to at first but fizzled out pretty quickly.

But the album dropped and we were treated to some pretty fucked up, entertaining shit from Eminem who sounded like he was having the time of his life rhyming about his drug addiction, Mariah Carey and serial killers over Dr. Dre bangers. The content itself were retreads of what Slim Shady’s been doing his whole career, but goddamn the man could rhyme.

As one of the most anticipated albums in a while, Relapse moved over 600,000 units in its first week and became the best selling hip-hop album of 2009, smashing albums from Jay-Z and 50 Cent.


6. The Eminem Show

Released: May 28, 2002

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 284,000

Don’t be fooled by the low numbers, The Eminem Show is actually one of Eminem’s best commercially performing albums of all time. The only reason why the first week album sales are recorded at 284,000 is because there was a premature release by retailers so the album sold that much in a day and a half.

The Eminem Show sold over 1.3 million units in its second week so realistically, the album would be up there, behind The Marshall Mathers LP as Em’s best selling album to date.

How could it not? It had the catchy pop single that would overtake all of America – “Without Me.” It had the single for the ladies – “Superman.” It had the rock-infused anthem that would appeal to hip-hop heads and White America alike – “Sing for the Moment.” And of course, it had the bouncy Dre single – “Business.” Shit was destined to move mad units.


7. The Slim Shady LP

Released: February 23, 1999

Label: Aftermath, Interscope, Shady

First Week Album Sales: 283,000

It’s hard to imagine, but there was actually a time where Eminem was virtually an unknown rapper from Detroit trying to breakthrough into the industry. When his debut independent project, Infinite, failed to gain any traction, Eminem rebranded himself as Slim Shady and released The Slim Shady EP which gained the attention Dr. Dre, one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time.

After signing Eminem to his Aftermath label, Dre started work on The Slim Shady LP, the album that would knock America down on its ass and propel the rapper onto a worldwide stage.

The debut single off the album, “My Name Is,” hit like a ton of bricks and after that, it was pretty much a wrap. The Slim Shady LP moved a very respectable 283,000 units in its first week and was certified platinum 10 days after its release.

Written by Stop The Breaks
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.