×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘Damn’

Kendrick Lamar has won a Pulitzer Prize for music for his album “Damn.,” the organization announced Monday afternoon. It was the first win for a non-classical or jazz musician since the awards began including music some 75 years ago.

The Pulitzer board deemed 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.” While Lamar himself — who made two guest appearances at California’s Coachella festival over the weekend — did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Punch, head of Lamar’s label Top Dawg Entertainment, tweeted: “Pulitzer Prize winner Kdot from Compton. I [better] not ever hear one of you n—as speak with anything less than respect in your mouth for Kendrick Lamar. #TDE.”

Host Dana Canedy seemed quietly delighted when making the announcement, and in an interview with the New York Times on Monday said, ““We are very proud of this selection. It means that the jury and the board judging system worked as it’s supposed to — the best work was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.”

While the Pulitzer’s usual laudatory blurb explaining the reasoning behind the award was not available at press time, there’s little doubt about the impact Lamar has had on hip-hop, music and culture since he broke into the mainstream with his 2012 album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.” Each of his albums has been a vast musical progression from the one that came before, but most importantly, his lyrics reflect his upbringing in Los Angeles’ tough Compton area, the black experience in America, hip-hop’s history and legacy, stardom and countless other topics — all through a remarkably modest and self-assured attitude, one that does not lack the confidence and bluster that most rappers have, but all through the lens of an old soul. Lamar, 30, has won 11 Grammy Awards and has been lauded by and has met with President Barack Obama on several occasions.

Musically, his albums have challenged both himself and hip-hop’s standards: While “Good Kid” was a kaleidoscopic take on Lamar’s own life and upbringing in a thoroughly melodic yet hard-hitting musical context, his next album was a deep challenge to his audience: He enlisted a battery of Los Angeles jazz musicians to back him, and while songs like the Isley Brothers-sampling “Alright” — an unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement — were relatively straightforward musically, others were challenging even to jazz heads. And while “Damn.” is a return to more conventional hip-hop overall, it is not without its challenges: For example, the second half of “D.N.A.” features three different musical elements that barely seem to have anything to do with each other.

Lamar was honored as Variety’s Hitmaker of the Year in November — read Andrew Barker’s cover story here.

 

More Music

  • Spotify Says It Was Unaware of

    Spotify Says It Was Unaware of Personal User Data Shared by Facebook

    Spotify was one of many technology companies to which Facebook granted vast access to users’ personal data — far more than it had previously disclosed, according to a New York Times report published Tuesday night. Facebook “effectively exempted those business partners from its usual privacy rules,” the report says, citing internal records and interviews. According [...]

  • Todd Rundgren

    Couldn't He Just Tell-All? Todd Rundgren Reveals Enough in Candid, Funny New Memoir

    Todd Rundgren has spoken up about his feelings on not having made the transition this year from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee to actual inductee. “I’m heartbroken,” he says. “For LL Cool J. Five times a bridesmaid…” That’s an indication of how seriously he took the Hall of Fame’s much-belated flirtation with inducting [...]

  • As Wilco's 'Mermaid' Turns 20, An

    As Wilco's 'Mermaid' Turns 20, an Original Woody Guthrie Tape Is Found (EXCLUSIVE)

      Among the many reasons to celebrate Jeff Tweedy right now — including his first real solo album, “Warm,” and a new memoir, “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)” — it’s worth throwing a 20th anniversary party for “Mermaid Avenue,” the landmark album he and his band Wilco recorded with Billy Bragg in 1998. There [...]

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, Miley Cyrus Join MusiCares' Dolly Parton Grammy Tribute

    Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, and Trisha Yearwood have been added as performers at the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute concert honoring Dolly Parton. Previously announced performers include Leon Bridges, Lauren Daigle, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Norah Jones, Shawn Mendes, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Linda Perry, P!nk, Mark Ronson, Mavis Staples, and Chris [...]

  • VICE

    Adam McKay Explains the 'Vice' Musical Number He Left on the Cutting Room Floor

    Adam McKay’s “Vice” has clearly divided critics, with some calling it a bold and daring analysis of one of the most pivotal figures in American politics, and others mincing no words in labeling it, full stop, the worst film of the year. (Truly, in the year of a Dinesh D’Souza movie, people are grandstanding with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content