Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar says this is what motivates him to succeed

Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” was the second most-popular album in 2017.
Getty Images | Chris Weeks

Rapper Kendrick Lamar has accomplished a lot since stepping onto the music scene with his debut album "Section.80" in 2011. Not only has he sold more than 17.8 million albums, but he's received 29 Grammy nominations, 12 Grammy wins and most recently made history as the for his 2017 album, "DAMN."

While his early accolades would be enough to make anyone feel proud, Lamar tells Vanity Fair that each professional achievement motivates him to keep going and not be content with his success.

"The minute I hear good news, it just motivates me to do more. I don’t want to get complacent," he says. "If you asked seven out of 10 people, ‘What would you do if you got the Pulitzer Prize?,’ they’d say, ‘I’d put my feet up.’ But that would make me feel I’d reached my pinnacle at 30 years old, and that wouldn’t make me feel good."

Rapper Kendrick Lamar just made history by scoring a Pulitzer Prize for his album 'Damn'
Rapper Kendrick Lamar just made history by scoring a Pulitzer Prize for his album 'Damn'

He credits his hustle mentality to a lot of people, including Top Dawg Entertainment record label founder Anthony Tiffith. On his arm he has a tattoo that says "Hustle Like You Broke $," and says Tiffith tells him often to "always have that mentality, don't be lax."

Lamar, who often refers to himself as "the greatest rapper alive," is known not only for his poetic lyrics, but also his ability to maintain a modest lifestyle within rap's flashy culture. Unlike many of his peer,s who boast about jewelry, cars and their newly-acquired riches, the 31-year-old rarely talks about the material things that he can now afford.

In fact, he says, his success and celebrity status have made him rethink how he spends his money.

"I look back to when I was 16 years old and thought, 'What would I do with a million dollars? I’m gonna buy this, I’m gonna buy that,'" he says. "Then I thought that me doing that is actually hurting people I’m responsible for. I’m the first in my family to have this kind of success, so I took it upon myself to wisely navigate this success, because I wanted them to be successful, too."

For Lamar, wisely navigating his success means not only providing employment to some of his childhood friends, but also spending and investing his money in a smart way. Despite earning more than $1 million per tour stop and having a net worth that Forbes estimates at $30 million, Lamar lives far below his means. Last year, he created internet buzz when he purchased 2017 Toyota Camry as a high school graduation present for his sister. In 2014, he garnered attention when he purchased a home one hour away from Los Angeles for just $523,500. And recently, he added to his real estate investments with a $2.65 million home in Calabasas, California.

"I like to invest my money in different things, rather than buying things for the moment," he told Complex in 2014. "Something that can last me a lifetime.”

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