The Pulitzer board hands out an award for music every year, and it almost always slips under the radar and goes to a jazz or classical musician. Almost. Because on Monday, the board delivered a surprise in honoring rapper Kendrick Lamar for his album Damn. Perfect choice, writes Chris Richards at the Washington Post. The decision recognizes that rap "is the most significant pop idiom of our time," he writes, "the sound of a broken nation struggling to understand itself." The music is "an implicit conversation about the conjoined legacies of slavery, segregation, police brutality and other hideous injustices that our society doesn’t care to solve," and the 30-year-old Lamar, a Compton native, nailed it on Damn.
Richards and Ira Madison III at the Daily Beast call attention to another facet of the decision—it comes just a few months after the Grammys again overlooked a rap album for its own top honor. "Lamar has been at the top of his game for years and his own industry has refused to award him, so it was certainly a shock that the Pulitzer board would," writes Madison. Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy said afterward that the "time was right" in regard to the Lamar honor. Canedy just happens to be the first woman and the first African-American to hold that Pulitzer position. "If it was about time for Lamar, then it was about time for Canedy as well—and for greater recognition of black excellence," writes Madison. Click to read his full post, and Richards' full post. (Read more Kendrick Lamar stories.)