The first Pulitzer music award was for Williams Schuman’s Cantata No 2 in 1943. Many decades later, we can see the advance of music, and in 2018 we congratulate Kendrick Lamar for breaking down this barrier of the classical, leading to the genre of hip-hop to a higher point!
DAMN is a winner as innovative as the Bob Dylan Nobel Prize in Literature that was awarded last year, though not as much as a philosophical enigma.
The Pulitzer plaque described DAMN as “a collection of virtuous songs. Unified by their vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers vignettes that capture the complexity of modern African-American life.” which is completely accurate. Although it could also apply to Lamar’s last two albums. At the moment the rapper enjoys his commercial and critical success comparable to that of the legend Stevie Wonder in the decade of the 70s.
The New York Times reported that the decision to award Lamar the prize was unanimous for the judges in charge. “The time has come. We are very proud of this selection. It means that the jury and the board’s evaluation system worked as it should: the best work received the Pulitzer Prize,” said Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy.
“It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way, this is a great moment for hip-hop music and a great moment for the Pulitzers.”
Who is responsible for this decision?
The jury is meticulously chosen. Among them, we can see the music critic David Hajdu, Paul Cremo of the Metropolitan Opera, Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English and African American studies at Columbia University and the composer David Lang.
In an interview made by The Atlantic, we could know a little more about the process to be able to participate in this important process in music.
Part of the judges could talk about this.
Let’s talk about some of the questions
How does one become a member of a Pulitzer jury?
Carter said: “I received an email invitation asking if I would like to serve. They explain the whole process. I was two years ago. That was my first time. Then I received a call again from this previous jury. But I do not know! It’s not something you can request. “
Was the infamous 1965 snub of Duke Ellington on your mind in choosing Lamar?
Carter: ”I wasn’t necessarily thinking of that. It’s probably more so on my mind now because of what’s going on in this country politically and just the ugliness of people—the intolerances that people have of each other and each other’s cultures and music. It wasn’t a decision of, Oh, let’s give this to a hip-hop artist, or to Kendrick Lamar, because of that. The piece stands alone. I think it’s a brilliant, brilliant work. I think he’s brilliant. Knowing that we were considering this, I felt really proud of us, the jurors. Being able to realize that there is other great American music and great American art forms besides what we’ve always been told is great.”
DAMN is a Pulitzer Prize winner!
Do you get many submissions from rap or other popular genres?
Carter responds “This year I was surprised that there was more of a mixture. There were some country and western–sounding pieces. Some pop pieces, pop-sounding pieces, some other black American music was submitted. I’m sure now in the future more people will submit. There was more than there had been two years ago. If you think about 1997 was the first year that jazz was nominated, with Wynton’s piece Blood on the Fields. Before that, it was pretty much European classical.”
These questions can answer us a bit about the “behind the scenes” of this decision. For years, the Pulitzer Prize has been cataloged as an honor and prestige that very few can enjoy, governed by classical music, until now. Where, with the change of the decade, people can appreciate, through music, the different genres that surround this world, giving them the value they deserve to each one! A great step for music!