With releases from Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP 2), Jay Z (Magna Carta Holy Grail) and even Kanye West (Yeezus), it’s clear that there’s no stopping rappers despite their increasing age. In fact, those three represent a new era in hip hop as rappers edge closer to 40 and are still producing new albums. However, as they go from mainstream artists to classic rappers, are they maintaining the sales they once were? Here at VH1 we decided to take a look at what the peak age is for the rap game and how just these artists are fairing in their golden years.
Below is a graph that shows the age of major hip-hop artists when their careers peaked. The information was based on the sales of their most successful album to date. Of the 30 solo rappers (or artists with extended solo careers — no groups were included), seven of them released their highest selling album at the age of 28. While there were a few outliers, such as Snoop Dogg who hit it big at 22, we calculated the peak age to be 27.6 years old. At that age, a rapper is most likely to produce his best-selling album, going 2x Platinum or higher.
It should be noted that there are not any female rappers on the list. Eve, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim and Queen Latifah released their most successful albums between 19 and 22 and quickly flamed out after that. On the other hand, M.I.A. seems to be the one female artist that is going to have a longstanding career with four LPs under her belt.
What does this all mean? Aside from Jay Z, who has proven to be back on his game with a commercially successful Magna Carter Holy Grail, most rappers start fizzling out in their late-3os. Anyone dropping an album after 40 is going to have a tough time reaching the same mass appeal they once did. However, the release of Eminem’s sequel to The Marshall Mathers LP could change that trend. If he proves successful, then there may be life for classic rock-aged rappers.
[Photo: Getty, Graphic: Stacy Lambe/VH1]