On Monday, rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music. DAMN., indeed.
The Pulitzers expanded into music in 1943, some 26 years after their establishment in 1917. However, the award for musical composition has always gone to classical or jazz artists.
This makes Lamar not only the first rapper to ever win the award, but also the first artist who doesn’t fall into either music genres.
It took the only jazz winner, Ornette Coleman, up to 2006 to be considered by the selection panel as worthy of the award.
Despite ‘pop’ music being around for over six decades, the Pulitzers continued to ignore its existence until 2008, when Bob Dylan received an “additional citation” – still, the prize itself remained unclaimed by a pop artist until now.
The award was presented to Lamar for his fourth LP DAMN., which was released in April last year. On Monday, the Pulitzer board said of the album:
“[The album is] a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Lamar broke onto the music scene with his 2011 album Section.80, and has since gained widespread attention for his politically charged performances, most recently displayed in his 2018 Grammy performance of XXX.
The album had also been up for Album of the Year at the 2018 Grammy’s. However, the award went to Bruno Mars.
Whilst the Grammy’s are widely regarded as the highest musical accolade, we can’t help but feel making history with a Pulitzer prize win has probably softened the loss for Lamar. Stay HUMBLE., Lamar!