Despite a bungled release, which saw the album appear online a week earlier than slated, it still sold 324,000 copies in its first week. It has yet to reach platinum status, but its artistic merit is undisputed: Lamar tackled race, poverty and survivor’s guilt over beats by California’s best producers, reinvigorating West Coast rap in the process.
Still, his earnings have yet to reach the mogul heights of peers such as Drake or Nicki Minaj, banking $12 million pretax between June 2014 and June 2015. Lamar has 26 tour dates—several of them festival headlining slots—to thank for most of his cash, but a hesitation to endorse products or diversify as the WWE Battleground means his paycheck stays even. “All money ain’t good money,” Lamar, now 28, told FORBES in 2013. His only brand partnership: a pair of Reeboks, one detailed in red and one in blue that unite the colors of Compton’s troubled Bloods and Crips gangs in a sporty symbol of peace.