Kung Fu Kenny Wins Pulitzer Prize And It Feels Like A Win For Us All
    • TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2018

    • Posted by: Piera Lolandes

    Yesterday it was announced that Kendrick Lamar was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music for his 2017 album DAMN. That made him the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the award. Actually, this is the first time ever that the music prize from this institution has been awarded to a rapper or a rap record. Even if you're not a Kendrick fan, you have to admit that this is pretty impressive. The Pulitzer Prize is so prestigious that it awards both living and dead. That's right, you could win it even after your death. According to the Pulitzer Prize Board, the award is given "for distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year."

    Since its release, DAMN. has been critically acclaimed and it debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart last year as well as spending four non-consecutive weeks atop the list. The album was later nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap Album but not Album of the Year. It is said that DAMN. is Lamar's third million-selling set in the U.S. after his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly and the 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city.

    The album was described by the Pulitzer committee as a "virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life." And in case you're wondering how the committee even made their unanimous decision to award Lamar with the prize, here's what Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy had to say about the matter: "I don't know specifically what the piece was, but in this case they were considering a piece of music they felt had hip-hop influences and said, 'Well if we're considering a piece of music that has hip-hop influences, why aren't we considering hip-hop?' And someone said, 'That's exactly what we should do.' And then someone said, 'We should be considering Kendrick Lamar' and the group said 'absolutely.' So then, right then, they decided to listen to the entire album and decided 'This is it.'"

    Whether this is Lamar's best piece of work is now a topic of conversation for some. On the other hand, the news of him winning a Pulitzer Prize had most, including myself, feeling like they had also won something. Lamar is one of the artists that we will be looking back on twenty years from now because he not only makes incredible music, but also because he uses his platform as an entertainer to raise awareness on sensitive topics that our society needs to be paying attention to. He is a lyrical genius who tells insightful stories and conveys complex emotions with each and every song he writes.

    Regardless of your opinion of Lamar, this accomplishment of his should be seen as a paradigm shift that indicates old institutions like the Pulitzer Prize, will one day be more open and become more culturally relevant and in turn reward more people who are truly deserving of such prizes. All of this also comes days after Beyonce was the first African American woman to headline Coachella and deliver an outstanding performance. It's artists like them that give us hope and inspire us. This might not seem like such a big deal to some, but for the rest of us, we can't help but wonder... Maybe slow and steady does win the race and there is something to be said about us feeling like we are winning with them.

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