Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. has won the Pulitzer Prize for music. It’s the first non-classical or jazz work to win the award.
The Pulitzer board on Monday called the album a work that captures the complexity of African-American life.
Lamar has been praised and lauded for his deep lyrical content, remarkable live performances, and his profound mix of hip-hop, spoken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds.
His major-label albums good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN. became works of art, with Lamar writing songs about blackness, street life, police brutality, perseverance, survival and self-worth.
His piercing raps helped him become the voice of the generation, and easily ascend as the leader in hip-hop and cross over to audiences outside of rap, from rock to pop to jazz.
Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy spoke to Billboard about this year’s decision.
I don’t know specifically what the piece was, but in this case they were considering a piece of music they felt had hip-hop influences and said, “Well if we’re considering a piece of music that has hip-hop influences, why aren’t we considering hip-hop?” And someone said, “That’s exactly what we should do.” And then someone said, “We should be considering Kendrick Lamar” and the group said “absolutely.” So then, right then, they decided to listen to the entire album and decided “This is it.”
— The Pulitzer Prizes (@PulitzerPrizes) April 16, 2018