Love Eminem or hate him, he’s the best-selling rap artist of all time. Full stop.
Similar to shock DJ Howard Stern, Eminem rose to fame as a polarizing figure. Offensive to many; a genius to others. Also like Stern, his name is synonymous with the profession he undertook and he’s still the undisputed king of his craft.
Earlier this year Marshall Mathers—better known as Eminem—released an album called Kamikaze. The album had zero advertisements or marketing; it was quietly released to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music as well as in physical form across the country I’m the middle of the night. Had there been more promotion for the album it’s nearly impossible to say how it would have fared.
Eminem spared no one, taking aim at every rapper and critic he had disagreements with. His reward?
Just as should be expected, Kamikaze has been the most talked about album of the year and is now certified platinum, according to Forbes.
With more than a million album-equivalent units bought or streamed, since its August release, Kamikaze is far from Eminem’s first platinum success. I’m fact, apart from his underground releases in the 1990’s, Eminem has never released an album that didn’t go platinum or better, including his work with D12.
What’s potentially most interesting about Kamikaze, is that in terms of physical album sales, Kamikaze is the best selling rap album of the year. More people actually forked over their money for tangible copies of Kamikaze than any other rap album so far this year. Many fans felt the album was so good, they refrained from just listening on subscription streaming services and bought CD and vinyl copies of Kamikaze. No easy feat in 2018, even for established artists.
As of the time of this writing, Eminem’s latest offering has sold more than 400 thousand pure physical copies. What makes it all the more noteworthy is that Eminem is not considered a new artist by any stretch. His first major-label album, The Slim Shady LP, will turn 20-years-old next year, meaning longevity is definitively on Eminem’s side. Getting older has clearly made Marshall Mathers no less relevant than he’s ever been.
Critics fired back at Eminem after the release of Kamikaze, calling it an “epic fail” and accusing the rapper of being out of touch, but Mathers has definitively received the last laugh in the debate about his relevance. In fact, if anything, Kamikaze proved that there is no debate about Eminem’s relevance and the size of his devoted fan base.
For the foreseeable future, the rap game belongs to Slim Shady.