Advertisement
  1. Music

Kendrick Lamar is the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize

Kendrick Lamar performs during the Festival d'ete de Quebec in Quebec City, Canada in July 2017. On Monday, April 16, 2018, Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his album "Damn." [Amy Harris | Invision/AP]
Published Apr. 16, 2018

NEW YORK — Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music, making history as the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize.

The revered rapper — who will be performing at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on May 22 — is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts who don't live on the pop charts.

The 30-year-old won the prize for DAMN., his raw and powerful Grammy-winning album. The Pulitzer board said Monday the album is a "virtuosic song collection" and said it captures "the modern African American life." He will win $15,000.

Lamar has been lauded for his deep lyrical content, politically charged live performances, and his profound mix of hip-hop, spoken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds. Since emerging on the music scene with the 2011 album Section.80, he has achieved the perfect mix of commercial appeal and critical respect.

FROM 2017: Before coming to Tampa, Kendrick Lamar conquered all of pop at the VMAs. Here's how

The Pulitzer board has awarded special honors to Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams, but a popular figure like Lamar has never won the prize for music. In 1997, Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz act to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.

That makes Lamar's win that much more important: His platinum-selling major-label albums — good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN. — became works of art, with Lamar writing songs about blackness, street life, police brutality, perseverance, survival and self-worth. His piercing and sharp raps helped him become the voice of the generation, and easily ascend as the leader in hip-hop and cross over to audiences outside of rap, from rock to pop to jazz. He's also been a dominator on the charts, having achieved two dozen Top 40 hits, including a No. 1 success with Humble, and he has even collaborated with the likes of U2, Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Rihanna and Beyonce.

RELATED: Kendrick Lamar headlines show coming to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

His music, with songs like Alright and The Blacker the Berry, have become anthems in the wake of high-profile police shootings of minorities as the conversation about race relations dominates news headlines. He brought of dose of seriousness to the 2015 BET Awards, rapping on top of a police car with a large American flag waving behind him. At the 2016 Grammys, during his visual-stunning, show-stopping performance, he appeared beaten, in handcuffs, with chains around his hands and bruises on his eyes as he delivered powerful lyrics to the audience.

Lamar's musical success helped him win 12 Grammy Awards, though all three of his major-label albums have lost in the top category — album of the year. Each loss has been criticized by the music community, launching the conversation about how the Recording Academy might be out of touch. DAMN. lost out on the album of the year Grammy to Bruno Mars' 24K Magic" in January.

The rapper, born in Compton, California, was hand-picked by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler to curate an album to accompany the ubiquitously successful film, giving Lamar yet again another No. 1 effort and highly praised project.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. John Prine performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 7, 2019. JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    In a semi-hometown show in Clearwater, the songwriting legend made the whole house feel alive. | Concert review
  2. Mario Lopez tosses beads to the thousands of people lining Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa during the 2019 Gasparilla Parade of Pirates LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  3. From left, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue arrive at the world premiere of their Netflix biopic "The Dirt" on March 18 in Los Angeles. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
    Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will also perform at Camping World Stadium next summer.
  4. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs during halftime at Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP
    The Super Bowl halftime headliners are heading out on an extensive world tour next year.
  5. John Prine will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 7. Courtesy of Danny Clinch
    Trisha Yearwood, Colter Wall, NGHTMRE, Madeon and more also perform.
  6. Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes will perform at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on April 21. High Road Touring
    The Grammy-winning singer will bring her debut solo album to St. Petersburg next spring.
  7. Jill Scott will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on March 17. Atlantic Records
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  8. Chicago will bring their summer tour with Rick Springfield to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 3. Ryan Bennett
    The classic rock favorites will perform at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in July.
  9. Omarion will bring his Millennium Tour to Amalie Arena in Tampa on May 1. Jabari Jacobs
    The singer and rapper will bring the mid-2000s to life in your backyard next spring.
  10. Garbage will bring their tour with Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on June 17. Joseph Cultice
    This is bound to be one of the most interesting tag-team shows of the summer.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement