Side Note

Kendrick Lamar just made Pulitzer history

If you didn’t think hip-hop had reached broad cultural acceptance yet, brace yourself for this: Kendrick Lamar has just won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 studio album DAMN., becoming the first rapper and pop artist to nab the honor. Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy, who visibly paused and smiled before announcing the prize, called the album “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dymatism that offers affective vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

Try being humble about that.

Lamar’s win elevates him in rap’s long history of lyrical geniuses. Not only does this count as a historic moment of critical recognition for Lamar personally and rappers in general, it represents a shrewd attempt by the Pulitzers to stay relevant with a younger generation. Academic and classical musicians have often been Pulitzer’s go-to awardees, but with Lamar’s win, the door is open for more culturally visible and influential musicians to get their share of this elite recognition. And, yes, it happened before the Grammys could acknowledge Kendrick with an award for Album of the Year.