Kendrick Lamar is a Compton California rapper and songwriter, award winning, platinum-selling and well respected. He has earned both critical and commercial success.
He wrote stories as a child, and then went on to put music to the lyrics he wrote about the rough streets he grew up on in Compton.
He rapped under the name of K-Dot, and released mixed tapes, which became popular enough to catch the attention of hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. His first major label recording was “good kid, m.A.A.d City”, which established him as a strong up and comer.
At the Grammy Awards in 2018 he was up for an album of the year award.
It was the third straight time that one of his albums had been nominated. Previously, he had been nominated for album of the year with “good kid, m.A.A.d City” and “To Pimp a Butterfly”. This time, it was “Damn.”
And the Album of the Year Award Goes To…
The album of the year went to Bruno Mars, for his album “24K Magic”, which was a shock to many. Lamar’s “Damn.” was acclaimed and acknowledged as brilliant.
Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” was popular but not particularly outstanding. It wasn’t the first time that hip-hop wasn’t selected for album of the year.
In a year which featured both Lamar and Jay-Z, there was no hip-hop win for album of the year, or any of the four categories that include acts and songs from different genres.
Other hip-hop artists who have lost out are Eminem to Arcade Fire, Lamar and Herbie Hancock to Daft Punk and Kanye West to U2, just to name a few.
A hip-hop artist has never won a Grammy in the category of song of the year or record of the year (the difference between song of the year and record of the year is that the record of the year category not only recognizes the artist’s performance, but also the overall contributions of the producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) if other than the performer artist).
The Last Time Hip-Hop Had a Win
The last time hip-hop produced an album that won the album of the year, it was 2004, and the album was “SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below” by OutKast.
Lamar Wins the Pulitzer Prize
Winning a Grammy Award is like achieving the highest prize in popular music, and Lamar was probably disappointed that he didn’t win. But his LP “Damn.” ended up winning the Pulitzer Prize!
Lamar was the first nonclassical or jazz musician to receive the prize since it branched out to a music category in 1943.
Hip-Hop Recognized with Respect
The Pulitzer Prize website describes Lamar’s “Damn.” 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”.
Thanks to Lamar, hip-hop was recognized as the vibrant art form that it is, representing a culture that is active and creative, and deserving of the kind of respect it will get from winning a Pulitzer Prize.