Lil Wayne had already released winning albums and mixtapes by the time he issued "Tha Carter III" in June 2008, but the album was a front-to-back classic and established him as one of the biggest rappers in the world. Perhaps most impressively, "Tha Carter III" was the best-selling album of 2008 by far, outselling more family-friendly fare by Coldplay and Taylor Swift.
Wayne's album sold 2.88 million copies in 2008 according to Nielsen SoundScan, while the runner-up, Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends," sold 2.15 million. Although "Tha Carter III" lost out to Robert Plant and Allison Krauss for the Album of the Year prize at the 2009 Grammys, the album still served as a coming-out party to one of the most unique voices in mainstream hip-hop. Next up: the eagerly awaited "Carter IV," set to drop this spring.