An intimate storyteller, social commentator, avant-jazz artist and a popular rapper—Kendrick Lamer has become the very first non-classical, non-jazz artist to win the 2018 Pulitzer prize for his 2017 album DAMN. This is also the first time in 75-year of history that Pulitzer awarded to a non-jazz and non-classical musical work. Lamer’s album DAMN which was globally appreciated and applauded is a combination of rap, expensive beats, furious rhythms that tells about the complexities of African-American lives. Lamer described his own American life in the song. According to Quartz analysis, Lamer’s albums of any genre are rated the best of the 21st century.
The album DAMN features Rihanna and U2, along with kinetic production from Soundwave and Mike WiLL Made-It, topped the charts and was among the most-streamed album of last year. David Hajdu, one of the music jurors this year and a critic for The Nation spoke to the leading international publishing house and said, “The group considered more than 100 compositions, including some pieces of classical music that drew upon hip-hop as a resource leading to a philosophical discussion among the jurors about what could be considered. That led us to put on the table the fact that this sphere of work—rap music—has value on its own terms and not just as a resource for use in a field that is more broadly recognized by the institutional establishment as serious or legitimate. When someone mentioned Mr. Lamar’s DAMN there was quite a lot of enthusiasm for it. But we listened to it and there was zero dissent. It was a beautiful moment. I left the deliberations on a cloud.”
Twitter congratulates Kendrick Lamer for winning Pulitzer
The news of the 2018 Pulitzer’s winner sent a jolt across the classical music world as they still struggle to be heard, compete against the popular genre and this time avant-garde non-jazz and non-classical music washed them away. The Pulitzer Prize was founded in 1917 and established its first Music category in 1943. Till 1997, its recipients were always classical artists but post that trumpet player Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the award; Marsalis was only the second African-American composer to win, following composer George Walker’s win with Lilacs just a year before.