The 15 Best Years in Def Jam History

3. 1998

Notable Releases: DMX It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (Ruff Ryders/Def Jam); DMX Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (Ruff Ryders/Def Jam); Jay-Z Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam); Method Man Tical 2000: Judgement Day; Redman Doc's da Name 2000

After a quiet period with merely solid sales from Jay-Z, LL Cool J, and Foxy Brown to keep things afloat, Def Jam came back hard when DMX made history: He became only the second rapper to release two No. 1 albums in the space of 12 months (2Pac was the first), selling over eight million units combined between It's Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. The pair provided a much-needed dose of aggression in the midst of the flashy Bad Boy era.

Jay-Z also hit the big time, as the 45 King-produced "Hard Knock Life" gave him a hit single and the most commercially successful album of his career. Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life moved over five million copies and scored Mr. Carter a Grammy (although he boycotted the ceremony when his pal DMX was snubbed from the nominations).

Elsewhere, both Redman and Method Man dropped LPs in the same month (prompting the "Month of the Man" campaign) which sold over a million copies each. Add to that strong showings from Erick Sermon's Def Squad project and DJ Clue's platinum The Professional, and you're looking at a total of 18.6 million units sold for 1998.

Tags: def-jam
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