What Does Success Look Like?

I’m in a Whatsapp group conversation with a few friends of mine. Our conversations typically revolve around hip-hop, decoding lyrics and proving how much more talented our favorite rappers are than everyone else’s favorites.


Eminem is Alex’s favorite. He’s been rapping for many years, has a lot of awards, is critically acclaimed, earned the respect of his peers and is financially successful. He’s also succeeded in an industry that doesn’t have very many people who look like him. Totally understandable pick.


Nivlek likes Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco. Both newer faces than Eminem. More importantly, supremely talented. Layers of cleverly laid references in their lyrics. Definitely not as financially successful as Eminem, but their wordplay is outstanding. They produce high-quality music.



Me? I like MF DOOM. Crazy intriguing lyrics and overall very talented. Even produces and makes beats. His face is always hidden behind a giant metal mask. Financial success? Who knows. Most hip-hop fans don’t even know him. He’s that obscure.

I brought this up because after my conversations with Ire, I’ve been thinking a fair bit.

What does success look like to me?

Is it looking more like Kendrick? Overflowing with talent and a promising future in the limelight? Or do I want to be like MF DOOM? Completely out of the public’s eye, but those in need my skills know where to find me?

Do I wanna be like Eminem? Most of the world would never consider me successful if I don’t have an obvious pile of money. A nice big house. Great car. Very popular clients. Plenty of accolades. Funded by popular investors. A product that’s considered a unicorn (don’t ask .. it’s a nerd thing). Do I need the trappings of success to be a success?

Can I be more like Kendrick? I’d be the guy the Eminems of software engineering wanna work with because I’m oozing raw talent so they need me to build something amazing, special and really technically impressive that’d give them an edge? Is this what success looks like?

Or is it MF DOOM that speaks to me more? Unknown to the general public, but the person that Kendricks and Lupes of software engineering look up to me because I build things that help them be awesome. It’s probably not as financially rewarding, but do I need mountains of cash to be a success?

Get New Posts via Email

I don't always post, but when I do, you can get it sent directly to your inbox.

Join 15 other subscribers

  • I am highly offended by this post! it insinuates that Eminem is only considered successful because he has truck loads of cash. “Do I wanna be like Eminem? Most of the world would never consider me successful if I don’t have an obvious pile of money.” I am an Eminem fan, consider him one of the greatest lyricist and here you are making it look like he is only good cause he found cash somehow and not that he is good that why he found cash :-). I think Lupe and Kendrick are good in their own right and are probably more inspirational to other rappers than they are to the masses but thats a different discussion and this is a tech blog so I will let it rest. Don’t attack my boy Em in public again… you here me? LOL

    You know who you guys are missing on this list. Kanye West! I know the guy can be eccentric but the music tho! Graduation easily on my top 5 albums of all time probably tie with Marshal Mathers LP

    • akamaozu

      Can’t throw shade on Shady. Got it.

      Please don’t hurt me ‘(

  • I think Kanye also fits in this post because he is another type of success. he is someone who feels within his sould he has awesomeness to share with the world. You may not agree with him but he still thinks what he is sharing is awesome. He feels successful because he has the platform to share his blessings/gifts with the world. Basically you can also view success of how much of my shit can i successfully shove down other peoples throat cause “Now we here”

    • akamaozu

      Looool you’re obviously not serious about life.

      I like Kanye’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I definitely went through my Kanye phase.

      At the same time I can’t remember the last time I selected a Kanye track to listen to.

      Sounds like I need to make a new work playlist …

  • Adim Ofunne

    imma just leave this knowledge from my boy Kanye here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-PfivL3erw

    • Kanye’s interesting.

      Sounds like his definition of success is everyone getting a fair shot based on what they can do, not necessarily because they are celebs or they have status symbols.

      Interesting … because if that’s correct, I’ve totally misunderstood him my whole life. And I used to be a huge Kanye fan.

      • Adim Ofunne

        Yeah man I honestly think he is easily the most mis-understood celeb right now. I think it is the way he delivers his points. People just see all the shouting and flailing and think he is another ignorant rapper, then in-between he says some obnoxious sounding shit like he is God or the next Steve jobs and then people start making blog posts with his quotes out of context, that make him look like a mad man. I have found that if you give him a good listen to the entirety of a speech or rant he says a bunch of smart things