Kendrick Lamar has become the first rapper in history to be awarded a Pulitzer prize for music. The award recognizes musicians for artistic brilliance of a particular piece of music.
Lamar won the prize for creating a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year. The award recognizes his album DAMN. for its “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.”
For those of you who have no idea what that means – basically Kendrick Lamar is awesome at telling stories about African-American life through music. Lamar Pulitzer has broken a long-held tradition which has seen mostly classical and jazz musicians win the prize. Awarded first in the 1940’s it wasn’t until 1997 that a musician who played a genre other than classical was even given the prize.
In an interview with the New York Times Pultzier prize administrator Dana Canedy said the time was right to break with tradition.
“We are very proud of this selection. It means the jury and board judging system worked as it’s supposed to – the best work was awarded a Pulitzer prize,” she said.
“It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop and a big moment for the Pulitzers,” Ms Canedy said.
The decision to award Lamar the prize was unanimous, although some classical musicians were reportedly insulted by the announcement as the prize is often a chance for composers to be heard.
DAMN. has already received critical acclaim with Lamar being awarded the prize for Best Rap Album at the Grammys. His single ‘HUMBLE’ off the same album also won the Triple J hottest 100 earlier this year.