‘Big Moment for Hip-Hop’ as Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer

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(NEW YORK TIMES) — In late January, the Compton, California., rapper
Kendrick Lamar lost the Grammy Award for album of the year to Bruno Mars.

“DAMN.,” Mr. Lamar’s fourth LP, was his third straight to be nominated but
ultimately fall short of the trophy, considered by most to be the top prize in
popular music.

But perhaps not anymore.

On Monday, Mr. Lamar’s “DAMN.” took home an even more elusive honor,
one that may never have even seemed within reach: the Pulitzer Prize for
music.

Mr. Lamar is not only the first rapper to win the award since the Pulitzers
expanded to music in 1943, but he is also the first winner who is not a
classical or jazz musician.

“The time was right,” Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, said in an
interview after the winners were announced. “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.”

She added: “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.”
Mr. Lamar’s “DAMN.” has sold more than 3.5 million albums, including digital
streams, since its release in April 2017. Credit Interscope Records, via
Associated Press

Mr. Lamar was not immediately available to comment on his win. But
Terrence Henderson, the record executive known as Punch from Mr. Lamar’s
label, Top Dawg Entertainment, acknowledged the achievement on Twitter,
writing that from now on, no one should “speak with anything less than
respect in your mouth for Kendrick Lamar.”

Ms. Canedy said the board’s decision to award Mr. Lamar, 30, was
unanimous. The 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.,” which featured Rihanna and U2, along with kinetic production from
Sounwave and Mike WiLL Made-It, among others, topped the charts and was
among last year’s most-streamed albums, while also tackling thorny issues
both personal and political, including race, faith and the burdens of
commercial success. Though his work is often serious — and searing — Mr.
Lamar, a dense and bruising lyricist, has managed to become a pop-cultural
juggernaut as well, performing during halftime of this year’s college football
national championship and overseeing the soundtrack for “Black Panther.”
(By RANDALL ROBERTS)

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