In a historic victory, Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his groundbreaking DAMN. album. Lamar’s monumental win marks the first time in history that the prize has been given to a non-classical or jazz musician, signifying a growing acceptance of hip-hop as an art form. The esteemed rapper is also the most successful mainstream artist to ever receive the highly prestigious award.
Since the release of his debut studio album Section.80 in 2011, Lamar has consistently created his own lane, bringing an unmatched complexity to mainstream music. Often praised by fans and critics alike for his lyrical depth, storytelling, and dynamic blend of hip-hop, soul, jazz, and spoken word, the 30-year-old artist has become one of the most essential voices in rap culture and beyond. With DAMN., the Pulitzer Prize board stated that Lamar’s latest album is “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, DAMN. recently won a Grammy for Best Rap Album, although it was snubbed for album of the year (losing to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic).
During a time of political distress and police brutality, Kendrick Lamar’s songs such as “The Blacker the Berry” and “DNA” have become necessary anthems of pride, resilience, and strength within the black community. Thus, Lamar’s win becomes even more personal and extraordinary, as it marks an imperative shift where black pride and the black experience is honored rather than dismissed.