In January 2018, Kendrick Lamar lost the Grammy Award nomination for album of the year to pop singer Bruno Mars. The album “DAMN” was Lamar’s third nomination.
However, on April 16th, the California rapper’s 2017 album “DAMN”, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music. This marked the first time in history the award has been given to an artist outside of the jazz or classical genre.
Asher Witkin, a music major at Columbia College Chicago said about Kendrick, “He managed to create music that is complex, critical of social norms, and unabashedly personal, but which also set the commercial market on fire.”
Local artists of all genres now have something and someone to look up to. Lamar’s recognition sheds light on the growing acceptance of hip-hop and rap over the past years.
“I think the album “DAMN” is rapping about being an influence,” said local artist Trent Burns. “If you look at the song names, they all mean a little something.”
While so many artists look to the future, they see the type of album that wins a prestigious award like the Pulitzer Prize, and that also inspires artists all over the world
“My hope is that this win helps musicians understand that not only is work like that viable in a mainstream market, it’s becoming more and more celebrated as the future of serious creative expression,” said Witkins.
With song titles like, “HUMBLE”, “DNA”, “LOYALTY”, and “LOVE”, Lamar discusses internal and external issues he faces. This connects to his fan base, some being young up-and-coming hip-hop artists listening to his music.
Like Burns and Witkins, Braxton George also sees the impact of Lamar’s album, DAMN.
“He addresses politics, religion, Compton, the fear he’s lived with his whole life as a black man and as an artist,” said George. “Also hypocrisy in religion, politics, and ultimately within himself regarding his ideals (both religiously and ethnically) and his actions.”
Another affected individual was Chicago local and Pulitzer Prize winner, John. H White.
“He’s the new light, he’s the new star. He’s the living lesson, a lesson. He’s the “I did it you can do it,” said White. “Every person we see, encounter, has a heartbeat, every soul, every person, they are a creation of the creator God. His somebodiness is fueling the light and the journey for somebody else.”
John H. White won the Pulitzer Prize for his body of work in photography in 1982.
”It’s a dream come true,” said White.
Local artists have a dream to aspire to, and like John White said, winning a Pulitzer is a reminder that dreams do come true. For up and coming artists, they have Kendrick Lamar to prove that.