France best selling albums ever: L’école Du Micro d’Argent by IAM (1997)
North against South, Paris against Marseille, PSG against OM, NTM against IAM. During the 90s, both sides of France have been pretty much opposed in every possible way. In music as a whole or in the rap universe specifically, IAM was the obvious flagship of Marseille city artists.
By the release of their third album, L’Ecole Du Micro D’Argent, their first album was Gold and their second Platinum. The latter contained the most iconic rap song ever, Je Danse Le Mia. With this increasing popularity, their new album debuted straight at #3 in March 1997. While the high entry was predictable giving how rap acts tend to have loyal fan bases, stability was everything except a given.
With each single getting heavy praise from both critics and street followers, the album resisted incredibly well, sticking within’ the Top 15 during its first 34 weeks. Interest continued until September 1998 as the album was Top 50 in all but one of its first 77 weeks. By April 1998, sales topped 700,000 copies for the release which was poised to hit a millions sooner or later. In March 1999, the tally was over 800,000, without counting the 200,000 copies sold abroad.
Charting as high as Top 30 in both 1999 and 2001, the album kept its way to the million that it passed in 2003, a mark which will be audited and certified in 2005. Widely considered as the best and most important French Rap album of all-time, L’Ecole Du Micro D’Argent was still selling 20,000 to 25,000 units per year until 2007 included and then 15,000 to 20,000 each year after that date. Since 2011 and the change of rules allowing catalog albums to chart, it is one of the best performing items, adding 50 weeks to its tally and climbing as high as #57 in early 2016.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,240,000 copies.
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Sources: SNEP, IFOP, RFI Musique, Libération.