Kendrick Lamar recently made history as the first non-jazz, non-classical music artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, for 2017’s DAMN. Immediately it was a polarizing move. Many felt it promptly elevated Lamar’s status to “Greatest Of All Time,” catapulting him into a cohort that includes the likes of Nas and Jay-Z. Some questioned the authenticity of the win; was it a consolation prize of sorts, after Kendrick lost the 2017 album of the year Grammy and also best rap album of the year several times in the past? In a similar vein, was it an attempt to appease the #OscarsSoWhite set by giving the award to a Black hip-hop artist, the first ever. Was it also an appeal to hip-hop loving youth (as hip-hop recently surpassed rock ’n’ roll — another Black American creation — as the most listened to genre in the United States), many of whom had no idea there even was a Pulitzer Prize for music? Or was it a well-deserved award given to a deserving artist, one of the most critically acclaimed of the last decade (so acclaimed, in fact, that some argue that DAMN. isn’t even Lamar’s best album to date, wondering why the award didn’t go to 2015’sTo Pimp A Butterfly instead)?
I would argue that it doesn’t matter.
To read the rest of Sensei’s commentary on Lamar and the Pulitzer, go to Riot Material magazine: https://www.riotmaterial.com/kendrick-lamar-damn-pulitzer/
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