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Kendrick Lamar makes history as first rapper to receive Pulitzer

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Greg Mariscal

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“Hip-hop is living, can’t yank the plug. If you do the result will end up kind of bugged.”

-A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory.

 

It’s been 27 years since the group A Tribe Called Quest released their album “The Low End Theory”, in which the song “Buggin’ Out” has a line that goes “Hip-hop is living, can’t yank the plug. If you do the result will end up kind of bugged.” While many people may see the ‘90s as the golden age for rap and hip-hop, there are still plenty of great artists in those genres today. In fact, many of the original MCs of the 90s are still producing music today. However, rap and hip-hop have never seemed to get credit for being a great medium of expression. That is, until a few weeks ago.

Kendrick Lamar made history when it was announced that his album “DAMN.” had won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. Before, only classical and jazz compositions had ever won the Pulitzer Prize for music. However, Dana Canedy, the administrator for the prizes, said, “The time was right.” Later, she added, “It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.” The board for the Pulitzer made the unanimous decision to vote “DAMN.” as 2018’s winner, with the board calling it “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 in the will of Joseph Pulitzer. In 1943 it was expanded to not only award pieces of writing, but also award classical music compositions. It wasn’t until 1997 that it expanded once more to award jazz compositions. David Hajdu, a juror for the Pulitzer, has said that in the past few years they’ve tried to “assertively think and listen more expansively, with more open ears.” “DAMN.” could be a turning point for both the Pulitzers and rap, and we may see the board expand the award to other genres.

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Kendrick Lamar makes history as first rapper to receive Pulitzer