The Compton-born MC, who sat at a table with CBS News anchor Gayle King, didn’t comment while accepting the prize, but briefly remarked in the Pulitzer Facebook live video, “It’s an honor … I’ve been writing my whole life, so to get this type of recognition – it’s beautiful.” That was his only comment to date on winning the prize.
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.” At the time of the announcement, 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.