La­mar makes Pulitzer his­tory

The artist is the first rap­per to win in the mu­sic cat­e­gory

The Australian - - ARTS -

Ken­drick La­mar won the Pulitzer prize for mu­sic yes­ter­day, mak­ing his­tory as the first non­clas­si­cal or jazz artist to win the pres­ti­gious prize.

The revered rap­per also is the most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful mu­si­cian to re­ceive the award, which is usu­ally re­served for crit­i­cally ac­claimed clas­si­cal acts who don’t live on the pop charts.

The 30-year-old won the prize for Damn, his raw and pow­er­ful Grammy-win­ning al­bum. The Pulitzer board said the al­bum was “a vir­tu­osic song col­lec­tion uni­fied by its ver­nac­u­lar au­then­tic­ity and rhythmic dy­namism that of­fers af­fect­ing vi­gnettes cap­tur­ing the com­plex­ity of mod­ern AfricanAmer­i­can life”.

La­mar has been lauded for his deep lyri­cal con­tent, po­lit­i­cally charged live per­for­mances and his pro­found mix of hip-hop, spo­ken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds.

The Pulitzer board has awarded spe­cial hon­ours to Bob Dy­lan, Duke Elling­ton, Ge­orge Gersh­win, Th­elo­nious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams, but a pop­u­lar fig­ure such as La­mar has never won the prize for mu­sic. In 1997, Wyn­ton Marsalis be­came the first jazz act to win the Pulitzer for mu­sic.

La­mar’s win is a sign that Amer­ica’s cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions are start­ing to fully recog­nise hip-hop as an art form. This year’s Grammy Awards, for ex­am­ple, nod­ded to hip-hop’s clout in the diver­sity of its nom­i­na­tions.

Yet La­mar’s widely praised al­bum Damn did not win the award for al­bum of the year, the in­sti­tu­tion’s high­est hon­our.

Else­where, The New York Times shared the Pulitzer prize for pub­lic ser­vice with the New Yorker for ar­ti­cles that un­cov­ered al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by movie pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein and oth­ers, cov­er­age that helped re­set the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about the treat­ment of women.

The Times was awarded a to­tal of three Pulitzer prizes, and the Reuters news agency won two.

The Times shared a na­tional re­port­ing prize with The Wash­ing­ton Post for cov­er­age of Rus­sia’s role in in­flu­enc­ing the 2016 US elec­tion and its con­nec­tions with the cam­paign of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The Times also won an award for edi­to­rial car­toon­ing.

The Post also won for in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism for de­tail­ing decades-old al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual pre­da­tion against un­der­age girls by Roy Moore, a Repub­li­can can­di­date for the Sen­ate in Alabama.

In fic­tion, the award was given to Less, by An­drew Sean Greer. The drama prize went to Mar­tyna Ma­jok for Cost of Liv­ing. Car­o­line Fraser’s work on au­thor Laura In­galls Wilder, Prairie Fires, won for bi­og­ra­phy. James For­man Jr’s Lock­ing Up Our Own: Crime and Pun­ish­ment in Black Amer­ica won for gen­eral non­fic­tion. Jack E. Davis’s The Gulf: The Mak­ing of an Amer­i­can Sea won the his­tory prize and Frank Bi­dart’s Half-Light was the poetry win­ner.


Ken­drick La­mar at the Grammy awards this year

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