On Monday, Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize for his album, “DAMN.” For the first time, the music category awarded an artist outside of the classical or jazz genre. The award is typically reserved for classical artists who are not recognized in the pop charts. Lamar is the most commercially acclaimed recipient of the price.
According to the New York Times, the Pulitzer board called the album “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 Grammy Award-winning album incorporates a fusion of hip hop, spoken word, jazz, and poetry to discuss social issues surrounding blackness, street life, self-worth, and more.
Lamar has also been praised for his politically-charged performances, particularly in response to incidents of police brutality against minorities. For example, at the 2015 BET Awards, Lamar sang on top of a police car with an American flag waving in the background. He wore handcuffs and appeared beaten and bruised during his performance at the 2016 Grammys, as the New York Times described.
Buzzfeed showcased the reaction of Lamar’s fans on Twitter. Radio presenter, Charlamagne Tha God, retweeted the Associated Press by writing, “wow. I wish somebody would tell me what I can’t accomplish.” Another rapper, Rob Markman, tweeted “Kendrick Lamar Duckworth just won a Pulitzer Prize for a hip-hop album. That shit is amazing and beautiful. These are new heights, there’s more we can do.” As rap became the biggest musical genre in the United States last year, its influence is being acknowledged outside of the music industry.