Rapper Kendrick Lamar wins Pulitzer Prize for music

Kendrick Lamar has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for music. Photo: Getty

Kendrick Lamar has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for music. Photo: Getty

California artist Kendrick Lamar has become the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, one of the most prestigious arts awards in the United States.

Lamar, 30, won the Pulitzer for his 2017 album DAMN. and was also the first music winner in the 100-year history of the Pulitzers to come from outside the world of classical or jazz.

Lamar’s fusion of jazz, poetry and blues with social themes and love songs has made him one of the most innovative rappers of his generation.

The Pulitzer board on Monday hailed DAMN., which was released in April 2017, 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”.

Previous Pulitzer music winners include jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis and Ornette Coleman.

DAMN. Lamar’s fourth album deals with religion, love, personal struggles and racial politics.

It topped the Billboard 200 album charts for three weeks on its release last year and powered Lamar to five wins at the Grammy Awards in New York in January.

But the album failed to win the top Grammy prize – album of the year – in what was seen as a snub by music industry voters for the rap genre despite its rising popularity.

Only two hip-hop albums have ever won the Grammy for album of the year: Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999 and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004.

Lamar was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, the home of hip-hop pioneers NWA, and started making music as a 16-year-old.

He also produced the soundtrack for the 2018 superhero box-office hit film Black Panther, and performed the lead single Pray For Me with The Weeknd.

The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine shared the honour for public service for their reporting on sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The reporting revealed “explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators,” the Pulitzer board said.

Reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey shared the Times honour for their report on Weinstein, which triggered a series of similar allegations against influential men in politics, journalism and show business and gave rise to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that have encouraged victims to come forward.

The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow was also recognised for a Weinstein report that detailed the allegations of a woman who reported her accusations to New York police. Authorities have since renewed a criminal investigation of Weinstein.

The Washington Post won the investigative reporting prize for breaking the story that the Alabama US Senate candidate Roy Moore had a history of courting teenage girls.

The Moore report came as stories of men abusing their power over women abounded, contributing to changing public attitudes. Moore, a Republican backed by President Donald Trump, had been favoured to win the special election but lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

The New York Times and The Washington Post shared the honour for national reporting for their coverage of the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election.

Reuters won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for exposing the methods of police killing squads in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, and one for feature photography documenting the Rohingya migrant crisis between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The Pulitzers, the most prestigious awards in American journalism, have been awarded since 1917, after being established in the will of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.

The 17-member Pulitzer board is made up of past winners and other distinguished journalists and academics.

-with AAP

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