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Def Jam's greatest hits

DEF JAM’S GREATEST HITS: On the occasion of Def Jam’s 30th Anniversary Concert (details here), we present the label’s all-time biggest sellers. The Beastie Boys’ landmark debut album Licensed to Ill was released in 1986, two year’s into Def Jam’s existence and a year into the deal with CBS Records (later Sony Music). The album sold 3.6m from release until 1994, when PolyGram bought out Sony’s 50% stake in Def Jam, and has sold 6m since then for a total of 9.6m, putting it #1 on the list. The rest of the top five were released after 1998, when PolyGram was acquired by UMG, which combined the Def Jam and Island labels.

The Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill (1984) – 9.6m
Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) – 6.1m
Jay Z, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998) – 5.4m
DMX, And Then There Was X (1999) – 5m
DMX, It’s Dark & Hell Is Hot (1998) – 4.8m

And the rest is history. (10/16a)

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