In 2011, We’re Thankful For: 15 Years Of Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment

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(In 2011′s ‘I Need A Doctor,’ Dre offers glimpses of his career)

By Tamara Palmer

On November 26 1996, Dr. Dre put out the first release on his newly minted label Aftermath Entertainment. The album was a compilation titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath, featuring the Compton rapper/producer alongside artists such as King Tee and the short-lived Group Therapy, which was composed of members Nas, KRS-One, B-Real, RBX and a number of acts that wouldn’t be heard from again. While the LP wasn’t a waving banner for the label’s legacy (though it did give us a satisfying glimpse of Dre ballroom dancing in the video for “Been There Done That”), it did open doors for a number of legendary albums that would follow on Aftermath. From Dr. Dre, to the Game, 50 Cent and Eminem, let’s take a look at the 10 most notable releases from Aftermath Entertainment, to date.

1.The Firm, The Firm:The Album (1997)
So significant was the buzz of failure surrounding this release from the “super group” composed of Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature that Dr. Dre would feel compelled to mention it on his song “Forgot About Dre” two years later (All you ni–as that said I turned pop, or The Firm flopped/Ya’ll are the reason that Dre ain’t been getting no sleep/So f-ck ya’ll, all of ya’ll). Still, it was certified Platinum, raking in sales of over a million—a success in present day standards, at least.

2. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Buoyed by the larger-than-life video for the single “My Name Is,” Marshall Mathers’
first offering for Aftermath–but his second album, following 1996′s Infinite–catapulted the Detroit rapper from battle legend to mainstream star. Em went Platinum four times over, selling more than four million units–oh, and also picking up a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2000.

3. Dr. Dre, 2001 (1999)
Seven years after The Chronic shaped the legacy of Death Row Records, Dre emerged with his own label and this successful sophomore effort, that included hits like “Forgot About Dre,” “Still D.R.E.,” and “The Next Episode.” Just like The Chronic, 2001 was certified six (The Firm, who?) times Platinum, with sales of over 10 million.

4. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Beyond Platinum accolades, this album actually earned an elusive Diamond certification by the RIAA for selling over 10 million copies. It’s a rarefied club that historically includes the likes of The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Led Zeppelin.

5. Eminem, The Eminem Show (2002)
Em was still riding high when he dropped his fourth studio album, which snagged the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2003 with songs like “Without Me” and “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” It also achieved the incredible Diamond status just like The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000.

6. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
The feature film-inspiring debut from 50 Cent–also a joint release with Eminem’s
Shady label–debuted at number one on the music charts. Three number one hits (“In Da Club,” “Wanksta,” “21 Questions”) later, it has sold more than eight million copies in the United States and many fans still consider it to be Fif’s best album to date.

7. Eminem, Encore (2004)
The five singles released from Encore ranged from typical parodies (“Just Lose It”) to somber, slow songs (“Toy Soldiers”) and, as such, it isn’t remembered for having the same impact that some of Shady’s earlier efforts did. Still, it has been certified quadruple Platinum, but some reports put international sales of Eminem’s fifth effort at more than 11 million.

8. The Game, The Documentary (2005)
The first Aftermath album from the Compton rapper–born, Jayceon Taylor–was released in conjunction with 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records. Fif would later drop Game from his label in a nasty public split but commercially, the album was a success, scoring hits with “Hate It or Love It” and “How We Do.” The Documentary was certified Double Platinum.

9. 50 Cent, The Massacre (2005)
The second album from 50 Cent bodied the charts and sales records, selling 1.14 million copies in just four days (think about that for a minute). It was released five days early to get a jump on bootleggers and the singles “Candy Shop” and “Just a Lil Bit” were inescapable on the airwaves.

10. Eminem, Recovery (2010)
Following 2009’s Relapse, which was Em’s first album in five years, Recovery surpassed its predecessor with certified sales of over three million, a sizeable number in the climate of current record sales. It’s a strong signal that fans were looking forward to the chance to see Mathers emerge from the shadows of substance abuse, into a brighter future.