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Pulitzer Prizes in music have historically been awarded to classical and jazz music genres, and Lamar is the first to break this mold. The Pulitzer Prize Board called 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.”
Damn was the biggest-selling hip-hop album in the United States in 2017. It has sold over 3.5 million albums. The album has won six MTV awards, five Grammys, NAACP Image Awards, a Brit, a Juno, a BET award and a Clio.
Lamar approaches music from a vivid story-telling angle and the compositional and musical genius behind his work expresses the different sides to his personality.
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Kendrick Lamar was raised in Compton, Los Angeles amid poverty and violence. His lyrics express his survivor’s guilt and moral responsibilities. Damn covers a range of topics including police brutality, the financial system and family struggles.
Damn. was reportedly the unanimous chose of the Pulitzer Prize music jury, however, received pushback from a number of classical music enthusiasts who don’t validate rap music as a valid art form, and called the win insulting.
According to a New York Times article, the administrator of the prizes said, “The time was right. 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.”
Video: Watch 2018 Pulitzer winners in Letters, Drama and Music
Creative Writing major at FSU. Love basketball, poetry, coffee, and dogs. Class of 2019.