Kendrick Lamar makes history by winning Pulitzer

April 16, 2018
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Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music – the first ever non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize.

The California rapper is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, which is usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts.

The 30-year-old won the prize for his Grammy-winning album DAMN. and will pocket £10,000.

The Pulitzer board said the album was a “virtuosic song collection” that captured “the modern African American life”.

Lamar has won critical acclaim for his deep lyrical content, politically charged live performances, and his profound mix of hip hop, spoken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds.

Since he exploded onto the music scene with the 2011 album Section 80, he has won plaudits for achieving the perfect mix of commercial appeal and critical respect.

Kendrick Lamar performing at the Brit Awards in London in February
Image:
Kendrick Lamar performing at the Brit Awards in London in February

The Pulitzer board has awarded special honours to Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams.

But a popular figure like Lamar has never won the prize for music.

Lamar has collaborated with pop luminaries such as U2, Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Rihanna and Beyonce.

Songs such as Alright and The Blacker the Berry have become anthems in the wake of high-profile police shootings of black people.

He has won 12 Grammy Awards, though all three of his major-label albums have lost in the top ‘album of the year’ category.

The rapper, born in Compton, California, was hand-picked by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler to curate an album to accompany the film, giving Lamar another number one.

Finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in music were Michael Gilbertson’s Quartet, which debuted in 2017 at Carnegie Hall, and Ted Hearne’s Sound from the Bench, a 35-minute cantata.



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