As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of hip-hop's invention in the South Bronx in the early seventies, we are gifted with the knowledge that Kendrick Lamar has been honored with not only the first rap nomination in the Pulitzer Prize Music category but with rap’s first win as well. Lamar receives this honor for his third studio album, “DAMN.”
According to The New Yorker, Joe Coscarelli said that the jurors revealed that the vote for Lamar’s work was unanimous and that the deliberations over “the best piece of music” had become a conference on the ethics of gatekeeping. Every other American winner of this award has received the award for either classical or jazz music. Dana Canedy, the administrator for the board of the Pulitzers, was also noted for mentioning, “[This win] shines a light on hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.”
In a trying moment in our nation’s history, Lamar’s historic win is more than just a music award. It is apparent that hip-hop is not concerned with cutting down on its edge in an effort to gain mass acclaim, and in spite of this, it is earning its recognition effortlessly as a great American art. Lamar perfectly embodies this, being alert and politically vocal while also happily curating soundtracks for superhero movies (Blank Panther included). He is hip-hop; he metaphorically raises a middle finger to categorization. Undoubtedly, the Pulitzers got this one right.
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