Kendrick Lamar has made history yet again by becoming the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for music it was announced just a few short hours ago. Winning the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his critically-acclaimed latest solo album, DAMN. Kendrick is also the first and only rapper to win the award, which the Pulitzer website proclaimed as a, “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Usually revered for critically acclaimed classical acts who don’t live on the pop charts, the 30-year-old emcee is also the most commercially successful to receive the award, which awards him $15,000 as well for winning the award. With the board awarding such special honors to the likes of Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and even Hanks Williams among others, but never someone as popular as Lamar makes his win that much more important too.
Especially for a kid who grew up in Compton, California and has been lauded for his deep lyrical content, politically charged live performances and the way he mixes Hip-Hop, Jazz, Spoken Word, Soul, Funk and Poetry into such stellar works of art. His piercing sharp raps about blackness, street life, police brutality, perseverance, survival and self-worth, helping him become the voice of a generation. Also easily ascending to the top of Hip-Hop, who has even crossed over to several genres outside of Rap, from Rock to Pop, Jazz and Soul.
Kendrick has been around since 2005, when he released his first major label mixtape, Training Day, under Top Dawg Entertainment and under the rap moniker, K-Dot. But it’s his first official solo album, Section. 80, released in 2011 (under TDE before their major label deal with Aftermath/Interscope was reached) that has helped him have the perfect mix of commercial and critical respect since than.
His songs like Alright and The Blacker the Berry, even becoming anthems in the wake of high-profile police shootings of minorities as the conversation about race relations dominates news headlines. This is yet another win for not only Kendrick, but Hip-Hop, which shows the unprecedented impact his work has made for the culture to bring it into this realm of acknowledgement that makes for a really landmark moment in Hip-Hop too. Also showing why he’s really one of the top 10-15 artists (not even emcees) of the last 15 or so years.