In April this year, Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, for his album Damn.
To understand just how groundbreaking a music moment it was, check out the list of the artists who’ve previously received the award. Unless your deep into classical music, you probably won’t recognise them.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, the HUMBLE. Rapper reflected on the historical moment, and pointed out how late coming the accolade was for the hip-hop genre.
“It was one of those things I heard about in school, but I never thought I’d be a part of it,” he said.
“[When I heard I got it], I thought, to be recognised in an academic world … whoa, this thing really can take me above and beyond.”
“It’s one of those things that should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago,” he continued.
“It took a long time for people to embrace us—people outside of our community, our culture—to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax,” he said.
“And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general. Writers like Tupac, Jay Z, Rakim, Eminem, Q-Tip, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop…It lets me know that people are actually listening further than I expected.”
Damn has sold over a million copies, and in April it was certified triple platinum.