Kendrick Lamar is the first hip hop artist to win the music Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded this 100-year honor, that most associate with achievements in journalistic excellence, on April 16 for his 14-track "Damn."
Reminiscent of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam, 29-year-old Lamar has sounded an anthem for the civil rights movement -- specifically the Black Lives Matter movement over the past three years.
While it has met its share of controversy since its inception in the late 1970s, hip hop has largely been associated with frank social commentary. From N.W.A. to Arrested Development, hip hop artists have been lyrical masters at shining a light on systemic inequities.
While the Pulitzer Prize Board which usually gives its music prize to classical or jazz works, Lamar's "Damn" was chosen for its realism and relevance in today’s political climate.
The board called 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."
In “The Heart Part 4," from the album "Damn," Lamar wrote, "Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk / Tell 'em that God comin' / And Russia need a replay button, y'all up to something."
"Damn" was released a year ago on April 14.