A monumental history for Hip-hop and rap was made on Monday, when the Pulitzer award for music went to Kendrick Lamar for his music album DAMN, making him the first rapper to win an award that is otherwise reserved for classical or jazz music that is considered to be more elite in nature. The Pulitzer board wrote about DAMN 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”
This moment in western music history, can be a changing point in the appreciation of what is otherwise considered to be ‘street music’ or ‘black music’. While it is common knowledge that Rap was formed as a form of protest, as a means to ‘strike back’ and an art form that was solely and soulfully part of the African American culture, it is only in recent times that the real essence of Hip-Hop is returned to full grace with the rise of artists like Lamar and movies like Black Panther.
This moment also recognises the politically charged changes that have arrived in Black history in America. Lamar himself had won wide praise after a politically charged performance at the Grammy this year. His lyrics and rhythm that are written to celebrate the life, vernacular and struggles of African Americans make a stronger political stand in Trumped up America. While there are still outrages about this award given to a rap artist, there are many who feel it is ‘about damn time’ that this award was given to a genre with a huge musical history and culture.
DAMN is Lamar’s fourth studio album and was released in April 2017. It also won multiple prestigious awards in the last year, including the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album, and a Juno Award for International Album of the Year.
Report – Rabeeha Abdurehim