Today, it was announced that rapper Kendrick Lamar has won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Lamar won the prestigious award for his latest studio album, DAMN., which was released on April 14th of 2017. As the organization behind the prize described DAMN., the 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.”
For the Pulitzer Prize for Music, Kendrick Lamar went up against Michael Gilbertson for his string quartet composition and Ted Hearne for his five-movement cantata for chamber choir, electric guitar, and percussion. Given Lamar’s competition for the 2018 Pulitzer, it’s not necessarily surprising that the rapper’s win is historic—Kendrick’s win this year marks the first time the Pulitzer has been awarded to a non-jazz or non-classical artist.
However, since DAMN.‘s release in spring of last year, the album has received praise from fans and critics alike. The album was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and it took home the prize for Best Rap Album. Furthermore, Lamar has become recognized as a brilliant cultural force, it was recently announced that a cultural biography of the rapper is in the works.