Kendrick Lamar Wins the Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature and musical composition in the United States. These honors were first ever given out in 1917, originating at Columbia University. Upon the founding of the Pulitzer Prize, its origin was solely just as an award presented as an incentive of excellence within journalism. Eventually, these awards broadened including other forms of journalism and then lastly included music in 1943. This past year history was made by crowning Kendrick Lamar the music Pulitzer Prize winner for his album “DAMN.," released in 2017. Lamar is the first rapper to win the award, also making him the first to win this award representing a genre that is not classical or jazz. The album encompassed a number of social issues, black pride and experiences that are experienced today, making Kendrick popular beyond just his music, but culturally as well.

Kendrick Lamar, 30, was born in Compton, California. He began his career at the early age of 16, creating mix tapes and serving as opening acts along local West Coast rappers. It was not until 2011 where Lamar’s career truly took off, being introduced in the well known XXL Freshman and working along with artists such as Ab-Soul, J.Cole and Dr.Dre. The following year, Kendrick was praised for the release of his album “good kid, M.A.A.D city," now seen as a classic. Kendrick has always been an artist to look out for, being known for his lyrical style that is similar to prominent old-school rappers, appealing to people of all ages. Kendrick has been nominated for close to 30 Grammys, winning seven of them. He has collaborated with numerous artists on different albums, had features on his own and is also the genius behind the recent “Black Panther” soundtrack.

When this award was given to Kendrick, it was not only seen as a breakthrough for the Pulitzer Prize’s history, but for the music industry as well. A professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, teaching the Laboratory for Race and Pop Culture in an interview stated, “Rap is born out of a group of black and brown people who wanted to be heard, who have been ignored by the country at large. For more than 40 years now hip-hop has expressed itself in a voice that could not be ignored. Lamar is simply the most audible example that rap has always brought.”

By awarding this to him, there was still controversy however, by specific classical artist feel as though in comparison to other genre’s of music they have plenty of competition to be recognized. Those remarks still did not redefine this win, having the board members that made this decision speak of after about the first listen of this album. It was stated that in addition to the breakthrough for music and the rap genre, this win also showed the future of the Pulitzer Prize and how it far it has come in regards to race. The prize was not awarded to a woman until 1983 and was first ever awarded to an African-American in 1996. With this award now in the hands of an African-American rapper, it shows how inclusive and diverse it has become.

Photo Credits: Cover Photo, 1