Kendrick Lamar wins history-making Pulitzer Prize, the first hip-hop artist to do so

April 23, 2018

US rapper Kendrick Lamar has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Music for his critically acclaimed album DAMN. Lamar became the first non-classical or jazz musician to ever win the prize, Democracy Now! noted.

Lamar has topped the charts with music that tackles issues of race, politics, religion and even mental health, TeleSUR English reported. The Pulitzer follows the five Grammy Awards won by Lamar in January for DAMN, his fourth studio album. His previous album, To Pimp a Butterfly, also won five Grammys. Lamar recently produced and curated the soundtrack for the Black Panther film to critical acclaim. 

The Pulitzer Prizes 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.”

Lamar is also the first Pulitzer-winning musician who has had a No. 1 album or gone platinum. TeleSUR English said Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Bruce Springsteen and Carole King were given special citations.

DAMN was nominated in several categories at the 2018 Grammy awards. The album won Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song (“HUMBLE.”), Best Rap Performance (“HUMBLE.”), Best Music Video (“HUMBLE.”) and Best Rap/Sung Performance (“LOYALTY.” ft. Rihanna).

Kendrick Lamar gave an enigmatic performance at the Grammy ceremony, accompanied by dancers dressed in army fatigue. The thought-provoking set prompted comedian Dave Chappelle to comment: “Hi, I’m Dave Chappelle and I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America. Sorry for the interruption.”

Democracy Now! spoke to hip-hop educator Brian Mooney, a New Jersey high school teacher who uses Lamar's music inhis lessons. After Lamar learned Mooney was teaching the To Pimp a Butterfly album to his students in 2015, Kendrick visited Mooney’s class in New Jersey. You can watch the interview below.

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