Ken­drick La­mar be­comes first rap­per to win Pulitzer prize


Cal­i­for­nia rap­per Ken­drick La­mar won the Pulitzer Prize for mu­sic on Mon­day for his al­bum DAMN., or­gan­is­ers an­nounced.

La­mar, 30, is the first rap­per to win the pres­ti­gious award. The Pulitzer fol­lows the five Grammy awards won by La­mar in Jan­uary for the al­bum.

Pre­vi­ous Pulitzer mu­sic win­ners in­clude jazz mu­si­cians Wyn­ton Marsalis and Or­nette Cole­man.

Rap is now of­fi­cially the big­gest mu­sic genre in the United States af­ter sur­pass­ing rock in 2017.

La­mar’s fu­sion of jazz, poetry and blues with so­cial themes and love songs has made him one of the most in­no­va­tive rap­pers of his gen­er­a­tion.

The Pulitzers, the most pres­ti­gious hon­ours in Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism and the arts, have been awarded since 1917. La­mar’s Pulitzer win marked a sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture as pre­vi­ous hon­orees have been drawn from the worlds of clas­si­cal mu­sic and jazz.

The Pulitzer board on Mon­day hailed DAMN., which was re­leased in April 2017, as “a vir­tu­osic song col­lec­tion uni­fied by its ver­nac­u­lar au­then­tic­ity and rhythmic dy­namism that of­fers af­fect­ing vi­gnettes cap­tur­ing the com­plex­ity of mod­ern African-Amer­i­can life”.

La­mar is from the Los An­ge­les sub­urb of Comp­ton, the home of hip-hop pi­o­neers NWA.

The de­ci­sion, which drew praise and sur­prise on­line, quickly over­shad­owed other arts win­ners, in­clud­ing An­drew Sean Greer’s win in the fic­tion cat­e­gory.

Greer’s novel Less tells the comic story about the mis­be­got­ten ad­ven­tures of a mid­dle-aged nov­el­ist. It was widely praised as poignant and funny and was ranked among the year’s best by The Wash­ing­ton Post, which called it an “el­e­gantly” told story of a man who “loses ev­ery­thing: his lover, his suit­case, his beard, his dig­nity”.

The drama prize went to Mar­tyna Ma­jok Cost of Liv­ing, a drama fea­tur­ing four char­ac­ters, two of them dis­abled. Car­o­line Fraser’s work on au­thor Laura In­galls Wilder, Prairie Fires, won for bi­og­ra­phy. Jack E Davis’ The Gulf: The Mak­ing Of An Amer­i­can Sea won for his­tory, while the gen­eral non­fic­tion prize went to James For­man Jr’s Lock­ing Up Our Own: Crime And Pun­ish­ment In Black Amer­ica.

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