Hip-hop musician Kendrick Lamar received a Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN. This victory for Lamar is significant, not only for rap music, but for making an important statement in the current political climate.
A Pulitzer Prize is awarded to an artist based on talent and quality of work, and “Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music, becoming the first non-classical or jazz artist to collect the award,” BBC reported.
This is an impressive achievement for Lamar and indicates a change in the way hip-hop and rap music is viewed in mainstream culture. Stereotypes surrounding hip-hop music often prevent it from being seen as an art form that connects with listeners.
Lamar winning a Pulitzer Prize acknowledges his album as a cultural icon. It was described as “affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life,” according to BBC.
Furthermore, DAMN. discusses topics like gun violence, racism, family and love—all issues that are prevalent in today’s society.
While Lamar doesn’t directly discuss President Donald Trump in DAMN., his message clearly advocates against many of the ways Trump targets black people. Lamar’s music is not easy to listen to; however, it offers complexity and does not shy away from topics other artists would be hesitant to discuss.
Lamar’s perspective is an important and popular one, and DAMN. “is a punch in the gut, a wake-up call to people who are in intellectual comas,” according to CNN. “The Pulitzer honor goes to Lamar, who is 29, but it signifies so much more: blackness and the revolutionary spirit, not respectability politics, and you would have to be soulless to not feel and hear him,” CNN continues.
Hopefully, this Pulitzer Prize draws even more attention to Lamar’s increasingly popular music. It is imperative that music like Lamar’s, which expresses underrepresented viewpoints of marginalized individuals, gains respect and listenership so societal changes.
Overall, DAMN. receiving Pulitzer Prize is extremely positive. This represents a small victory in what can sometimes feel like a losing battle in today’s political climate.
As Dana Canedy, the Pulitzer Prize administrator, said, “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,” according to BBC.
This could not be more evident. It is essential that artists like Lamar are praised for the way their art is impacting individuals and the way we see the world around us.