Kendrick with the Pulitzer
April 30, 2018
Singer Kendrick Lamar made history when he became the first rapper to win the Pulitzer award for his album, DAMN. Raised in Compton, California, amid gang violence and drugs, the hardships he faced and conquered have helped him to become the voice of a generation.
The Pulitzers expanded to include music in 1943. Kendrick’s win is considered a groundbreaking achievement. Being the first rapper to win this prestigious prize, Lamar’s win has been met with mixed emotions. While some called the win insulting to the Pulitzers, Ted Hearne had a different opinion.
Hearne’s Sound From the Beach was a finalist for the prize, and he had nothing but positive comments regarding the choice. “The work that’s on that album is every bit as sophisticated and experimental as any music,” said Hearne.
According to David Hajdu, one of this year’s music jurors,”when someone mentioned Lamar’s DAMN there was quite a lot of enthusiasm for it. We listened to it and there was zero dissent. It was a beautiful moment.”
DAMN has received countless awards, including six MTV awards, five Grammys, and much more. With more 3.5 million in sales, it has been deemed the best selling hip-hop album of 2017. Pulitzer jurors had this to say about the album: ”[DAMN] 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.”
The album has also achieved claim from some major publications. “Lamar invites us to eavesdrop as he confesses to a host of sins–pride, lust, greed, anger, hypocrisy–as well as his fear of being judged, by his fire and brimstone God,” said The Economist. Amid a tumultuous period in society, many think this album couldn’t have come at a better time. “It comes at a time increasingly defined by unapologetic blackness, from the cinematic phenomenon of Black Panther (which Lamar soundtracked) to last week’s epic festival now known as Beychella after Beyonce delivered a flawless performance.
Listeners can find comfort in resonating with Lamar’s pain and struggles. He doesn’t hold back in his songwriting as he brings to light the issues plaguing modern society. Many believe that Lamar was most deserving of this award, and it appears his upcoming works will be met with great anticipation.