Kendrick Lamar is the first rapper to ever win a Pulitzer prize for music—and that is a big deal. The day that Lamar won the award, my roommates and I watched all of his music videos together; there’s no denying the artistry and brilliance behind his work. In a world where Black Lives Matter is still debated, Lamar weaves a tale of racism, blackness, police brutality and humanity through his album DAMN.
For an industry that profits off of black artists throughout creative mediums, the music industry has taken too long for this monumental moment to come. Throughout history, Black music and culture have been shunned for being too crass and too far from the mainstream. I believe Lamar has broken down the barriers of what it means to be a recognized artist.
On his song “XXX.” Lamar said, “Ain’t no Black power when your baby killed by a coward.” He stuck with his convictions, calling out white complacency and police brutality. His lyrics are sharp and piercing, not shying away from difficult or uncomfortable topics that need to be discussed. All the while, he is still holding down great music.
Laced through his album are songs like “LOVE.” where Lamar remarks that he is, “Sipping bubbly, feeling lovely, living lovely.” In doing such, he is able to show that there is love and good throughout the hardships he has experienced and the societal problems going on in the world.
He created a narrative about his life, and likely the lives of countless Black people that was unrecognized before. Even though “DAMN.” stands for itself and does not need any validation from any group or organization, from the Grammy’s to the Pulitzer Prize, it is still incredible that a rap album that discusses important issues has been given such a recognition.
Rap is not just ruckus or noise. It never was. Now, it is finally being acknowledged as such.