People don’t win Pulitzer prizes for just anything. These prestigious prizes go to those who exhibit the utmost excellence in journalism and the arts. Having received a Pulitzer, Kendrick Lamar not only achieved a highly-coveted honor, but also made history. The artist is the first non-classical or jazz artist to receive the award for music. The “DAMN.” album was released on April 14, 2017. The album has Lamar as the winner of five Grammys, with a million copies sold.
A retelling of his life growing up in Compton, the Pulitzer Prize listing describes Lamar’s album as “a virtuous song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Past winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Music include, Julia Wolfe for “Anthracite Fields” and Henry Threadgill for “In for a Penny, In for a Pound.” Last year’s Pulitzer music winner Du Yun expressed elation about the “DAMN.” win.
“‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ got my blood pumping and the video for ‘DNA.’ made me want to make the music I’m making now,” Yun said in a written statement. “Freedom of expression is the height of art, and Kendrick Lamar is the embodiment of that freedom.”
Up against a string quartet that performed in Carnegie Hall (“Quartet” by Michael Gilbertson), and a five-movement cantata that featured the electric guitar (“Sound from the Bench” by Ted Hearne), the “DAMN.” win was definitely not without fierce competition.
The jurors of the Pulitzer Prize for music felt very secure in their decision with support from the prize administrator, Dana Canedy.
“We are very proud of this selection,” Canedy said. “It means that the jury and the board judging system worked as it’s supposed to — the best work was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.”
Additionally, Lamar was hand-selected by “Black Panther” director, Ryan Coogler, to curate the movie soundtrack album. This album – yet another work of art for an equally beautiful feature film – featured other up and coming artists such. Those included the like of SZA, Khalid, Travis Scott, and The Weeknd. Also worth mentioning: 2 Chainz himself.
If all the praise and accolades don’t convince you of the sheer artistry and rawness of “DAMN.,” then give it a listen yourself. Two seconds into “BLOOD.,” the first track-listing, and I guarantee you’ll have shivers.
Coast through the bumpy ride of Kendrick’s life with “DNA.”, “PRIDE.”, the iconic “HUMBLE.”
And don’t forget to cruise along to “DUCKWORTH.” the bittersweet conclusion.
Simply put, “DAMN.” was a damn good album. With all the critical acclaim Lamar has received for it in the past year, he didn’t need a Pulitzer Prize to validate that.
Although, I’m sure the $15,000 it came with was a nice bonus.
Listen to the album here.