Kendrick Lamar may not have a Grammy for Album of the Year, but at least he’s got a Pulitzer Prize.
On Wednesday, Lamar accepted the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which honors “a distinguished musical composition of significant dimension by an American,” at Columbia University for his 2017 album DAMN. The Compton rapper is the first non-jazz or classical musician to win the award in its nearly 75-year history.
Lamar performed at Madison Square Garden last night as part of the TDE Championship Tour, at one point in front of a “Pulitzer Kenny” backdrop, in a play off his Kung Fu Kenny moniker (which, yes, is a reference to cinematic classic Rush Hour 2). When the rapper arrived at Columbia for the ceremony, Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy shook his hand, stating, “We’re both making history.”
On Instagram, the Pulitzer Prize jury described DAMN. as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”
Lamar reportedly received a standing ovation upon receiving the award. “It’s an honor. Been writing my whole life, so to get this type of recognition, it’s beautiful,” he said in his acceptance speech.