The Pulitzer Prize for music is awarded to a distinguished composition by an American, and the institution has described Lamar’s album 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.”
Lamar’s win is made all the more monumental by its place in history as the first time a non-jazz or classical artist has won the award. In an interview with Billboard, Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy spoke of the process behind the selection, saying, “The important thing about this is the jury and the board just decided that the album is a word of vernacular avant-garde. It’s a dense and sophisticated collage of hybrid sounds, polyrhythms, layered under what we would probably consider pulsing kinetic text. The brilliance of the music is what’s shone through.”
DAMN. received enormous amounts of praise from critics and fans alike, chalking up five wins at the 2018 Grammy Awards and finding a worthy place amongst albums frequently cited as the best of the year.
You can see Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work live at Splendour in the Grass later this year.