Opinion: Kendrick Lamar makes Pulitzer Prize history

Alex Jones, Columnist

Kendrick Lamar becomes first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize in music.

Kendrick Lamar made history this month, becoming the first non-classical or jazz artist to ever win a Pulitzer Prize.

The seasoned, 30-year-old rapper and his iconic, grammy-winning album “DAMN.” managed to turn the heads of the Pulitzer board.

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The Pulitzer board called “DAMN.” a virtuosic song collection, which captures the complexity of modern African-American life.

This is huge for hip-hop culture, as this prestigious award has previously been given to more classical works.

“I know it ticked off the classical community. I think this is another step in a long line of widespread acceptance for hip hop amongst the global communities,” Jason Fick, Assistant professor of Music Technology and Production, said.

Since his emergence into the music scene in 2011, Kung-Fu Kenny, Lamar’s self-dubbed nickname, has been known for his storytelling abilities and his vivid, personal lyrics.

“I enjoy Kendrick’s music for his creative lyrics and style. He raps to largely varying beats and manages to maintain his music distinct and unique,” Jaegen Grimes, sophomore, said.

His unique sound features spoken word and a variety of sounds including funk, soul, jazz and African sounds. Lamar’s music is familiar, yet satisfyingly new and even appeals to music fans outside of the hip-hop genre.

“Kendrick Lamar is one of the rare artists who has achieved critical and commercial success while earning the respect and support of those who inspired him,” Andy Kellman of All Music said.

Growing up in Compton, Lamar was faced with police brutality, street-life and spent each day trying to survive and persevere. Through “DAMN.,”he sheds light on the personal experiences he had growing up in such a hostile environment.

“I’ll prolly die from one of these bats and blue badges. Body-slammed on the black and white paint, my bones snappin’,” Lamar said in his song “FEAR.”

Writing poetic songs about Blackness and the complexity of the modern African-American, paired with his fierce raps, is what makes this album so remarkable and worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.

Prior to winning this Pulitzer Prize, “DAMN.” was already considered a masterpiece. The albumdebuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, won five Grammys and went double-platinum thanks to over a million copies in traditional album sales.

According to Billboard, the sales for “DAMN.”have skyrocketed with a 236 percent increase since Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize.

Between April 16, the day he won the award, and April 19, 11,000 copies were sold, compared to the 1,000 copies sold in the week prior to the announcement. Streaming of Lamar’s album has also increased.

Kendrick Lamar making history by winning one of the most prestigious awards in the world, may be just the what the rapper needs in order for his album to go triple-platinum.

Regardless of that, “DAMN.” will go down as one of the greatest albums of all time and Kung-Fu Kenny will go down as one of the greatest, most influential rappers of all time.