Since 1917, the Pulitzer Prize has been honoring excellence in journalism and the arts. This year, of the many arts, the prize acknowledged music. Specifically, and for the first time, giving their attention to the genre of rap, and awarding the prize to Kendrick Lamar.
I think this was an incredible decision. Given rap, in my opinion, is essentially spoken poetry, I think that awarding the Pulitzer Prize to Kendrick Lamar was genius.
I began listening to Kendrick when I first came across his album, Section 80. His words always carried so much meaning; his songs were never the average. They had the same sort of vibe that attracted me to rap. Yet, his words moved me. Almost like he was teaching me about a world I was ignorant of and telling me a story through his words.
Since then, I have been all about Kendrick. He seriously just keeps getting better. His most recent album DAMN was a masterpiece. He confronted racism, the media, the effects of socioeconomic marginalization, and so much more. This album spoke to the political problems of the day in a way I could have never imagined. Even NPR noticed, calling the album introspective and unforgiving.
Kendrick Lamar makes incredible music. Hence, him winning the Pulitzer Prize is no surprise to me, and a great decision, in my opinion. I’m just confused on how he did not win the Grammy Award for album of the year-- that’s all.
This year Bruno Mars’ album, 24K Magic, won the Grammy for album of the year.
Maybe if DAMN did not exist I could be more sympathetic to this decision. But given the depth of Kendrick’s album and the excellence of every song, I am honestly confused. I mean, he won the Pulitzer Prize-- an award that rarely acknowledges musicians. And never, with Kendrick being the first, acknowledges rappers. Him winning this award obviously means the album was pretty great. But then, why was his album not acknowledged for an award explicit to music?
Mind you, I think Bruno Mars is great. He’s actually one of my favorites; I mean, you can’t not love him. The guy makes hits. But, Kendrick on the other hand? Specifically, in this new album, he geared every single one of his songs towards the problem of the day. Plus, independent of their meaning, they’re great songs. I just don’t understand how this choice was made.
A lot of people were mad about this decision, given this is the second year in a row that Kendrick has been denied album of the year at the Grammys, otherwise, the most prestigious award of the night. Last year he lost to Taylor Swift, making the internet essentially blow up this year after the Grammy was awarded to, Mars. Everyone seemed to be shocked that the Grammy Award committee genuinely took Mars’ album to be the right choice.
I think the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to Kendrick Lamar this year is both incredible and notable.
Incredible, for all the reasons I have already mentioned. Yet, it is a notable phenomenon when you consider why a ‘Grammy’ is valuable in the first place. Sure, it comes with some pretty great incentives for the winner, but, when almost anyone hears that someone won a Grammy Award, regardless of knowing what it is for, they consider it to be a big deal.
It is a big deal because people acknowledge the winner as valuable. It is people thinking it is valuable that contributes to its value. So on the other hand, if people start to think that the Grammy Award is given out arbitrarily and does not signify the true ‘best album of the year’, it will slowly just become insignificant.
That’s really the way a lot of things work; fame, public significance, acknowledged prestige, all come from people taking them to be valuable. You know, I constantly find myself questioning how someone like Kim Kardashian is famous. But she is famous, simply for the reason that people are interested in what she does. Now that example is not an exact parallel but the point is that the Grammy Award is significant because people take it to be. Honestly, I think this years decision undermined it’s value.