Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music in recognition of his fourth studio album, DAMN. The Pulitzer organization announced the news on Twitter this afternoon:
— The Pulitzer Prizes (@PulitzerPrizes) April 16, 2018
This is a massive shock. The hugely prestigious Pulizter Prize for Music has been awarded 67 times since its inception in 1943 (that’s every year except 1953, 1964, 1965, and 1981). It has never gone to an artist nearly as mainstream as Lamar. In the past 25 years, the committee has honored Wynton Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, and Steve Reich. The 2017 award went to Chinese avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist Du Yun.
On their website, the Pulitzer committee wrote that DAMN. was “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Two composers were honored as finalists this year: Michael Gilbertson, for Quartet, and Ted Hearne, for Sound from the Bench.