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Kendrick Lamar wins Pulitzer for music


Apr 19, 2018 11:27:06 AM

Kendrick Lamar wins Pulitzer for music In late Jan, rapper Kendrick Lamar lost the Grammy Award for album of the year to Bruno Mars. Damn, Lamar’s fourth LP, was his third straight to be nominated but fell short of the trophy, considered by most to be the top prize in popular music.

But now Lamar’s Damn has taken home an even more elusive honour, one that may never have even seemed within reach: the Pulitzer Prize for music. Lamar is not only the first rapper to win the award since the Pulitzers expanded to music in 1943, but he is also the first winner who is not a classical or jazz musician.

“The time was right,” Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, said in an interview after the winners were announced. “It means that the jury and the board judging system worked as it’s supposed to - the best work was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Canedy said the board’s decision to award Lamar was unanimous. The 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.”

Damn, which featured Rihanna and U2, along with kinetic production from Sounwave and Mike WiLL Made-It, among others, topped the charts and was among last year’s most-streamed albums, while also tackling thorny issues both personal and political, including race, faith and the burdens of commercial success. Though his work is often serious - and searing - Lamar, a dense and bruising lyricist, has managed to become a pop-cultural juggernaut as well, performing during halftime of this year’s college football national championship and overseeing the soundtrack for Black Panther.

The news of the prize sent a jolt through the classical music world, where living composers often struggle to be heard - competing not only against those who work in more popular genres, but also the long-dead greats who make up the classical canon.

Caroline Shaw, a frequent collaborator of Kanye West’s whose Partita for 8 Voices won the Pulitzer in 2013, posted a YouTube video of Lamar with one word: “Yes.”


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