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Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize Win: Overdue Recognition of Black Excellence

Tuesday - 17/04/2018 22:04
The rapper is far from the first Pulitzer Prize-worthy black artist. But like Beyoncé and fellow virtuosos, he has long been denied the industry award recognition he deserves.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH ROGERS/THE DAILY BEAST
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH ROGERS/THE DAILY BEAST

Rappers boast of plenty of things in their lyrics, but now the Pulitzer Prize prize can be added to the list. Compton’s Kendrick Lamar will be the first rapper (and first winner who is not a classical or jazz musician) able to name-drop the Pulitzer for music after his album DAMN. was awarded the honor this Monday.

DAMN. was awarded because the Pulitzer board characterized it 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.” Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy told the New York Times after announcing the award, “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.”

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