Kendrick Lamar becomes the first rapper to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Music, thereby joining the league of classical music and jazz virtuosos like Aaron Copland, Charles Ives and John Adams. Kendrick Lamar also happens to be the first commercially lauded artist to win this award.
The Pulitzer Board has rarely awarded mainstream music, with the exception of Bob Dylan, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, said in an interview, “We are very proud of this selection. It means that the jury and the board judging system worked as it’s supposed to — the best work was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.”
Kendrick Lamar received the award for DAMN., which had topped the Billboard 200 charts and gave Lamar the opportunity to win five Grammy Awards this year. Also, DAMN. had sold more than 3.5 million albums last year, making it amongst the most commercially successful albums of the year.
However, the album failed to win the Album of the Year award, which many speculated to be a snub against the rising popularity of the rap genre. In 2017, rap surpassed rock music to be the most popular genre in US.
The board called Lamar’s album as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexities of modern African-American life.”
However, Lamar’s win has not been well received by some in the classical music world, as in today’s scenario composers struggle for their music to be heard. One composer even took to Facebook to call Kendrick Lamar’s win as ‘insulting’.