Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize

By Marc Weingarten

Rap is the most significant music of our time.

No one who has heard Kendrick Lamar’s stunning album “Damn” could be at all surprised that it is the first nonclassical or jazz recording to win a Pulitzer Prize. More than that, it is further proof — if any is still needed— that American culture has at last fully moved beyond the hegemony of rock-and-roll and the electric guitar-driven sound that dominated 60 years of popular music.


The Pulitzer for Lamar might confuse or anger those reared on the great canon of rock, but perhaps we will no longer have to endure the cloudy reveries of middle-aged men bemoaning the fact that fewer people seem to appreciate the brilliance of a 20-minute Clapton or Hendrix solo anymore. Didn’t millions of us, after all, live out our arena-rock fantasies with the Guitar Hero video game just a few years ago?

Mercifully, rock has been displaced by hip-hop, with its daring formal innovations, its blistering polemics and its vital role as a sounding board for powerful social movements. A genre aggressively committed to singles, as opposed to the creaky album-and-tour model that rock stubbornly insists upon even at the indie level, hip-hop provides a running commentary on the culture as it happens — a musical newsfeed in real time.

LINK: Washington Post