Kendrick Lamar is the First Rapper to Win the Pulitzer Prize for Music

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By Jaylin Paschal

As a writer, it's only natural that winning a Pulitzer is on my bucket list. As a writer with an affinity for Hip Hop, it's only natural that I am totally freaking out about a rapper winning a Pulitzer.

Unsurprisingly, this rapper is the always-winner, Kendrick Lamar. He was awarded a Pulitzer prize for his work on his latest studio album, DAMN. It is the first non-classical or jazz work to win the award. Additionally, he is the first rapper to win a Pulitzer. 

On DAMN., Kendrick gave a picturesque recount of black life in Compton and beyond.

His piercing raps helped him become the voice of the generation, and easily ascend as the leader in hip-hop and cross over to audiences outside of rap, from rock to pop to jazz.
— AP

While this award is not the first time we've seen traditional institutions begin to honor Hip Hop (Library of Congress, Harvard Library, Songwriters Hall of Fame, etc.), it is monumental in the way it symbolizes Hip Hop's prominence as a true, practiced art form. The criteria for the Pulitzer for Music is "superb composition, evocative content and a timeless quality." The recognition of Kendrick's attention to detail, emotion and strategy in his work on DAMN. suggests to the world that rap as just as technically involved and complex as orchestral writing.

Hopefully this honor, which not only officially distinguishes Kendrick as a top-tier lyricist and artist, prompts other institutions to begin to give Hip Hop the respect, accolades and money it deserves.

Jaylin PaschalComment