K-Dot Makes His Mark

Alexa VanHooser, Reporter

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Juxtaposing the works of the comparatively traditional, classical works of Pulitzer finalists Ted Hearne and Michael Gilbertson, esteemed rap artist and cultural visionary Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. has made history as the first rap album to win the Pulitzer Prize in music.

And that says a lot.

Often considered by older generations as a genre of lyrical and narrative simplicity, the landscape of the rap itself has morphed, challenged, and redefined itself countless times. Lamar’s affinity for contextualizing the discrepancies between traditional African-American life and greater society has drawn an intrigued, dynamic audience.

Even for the most distantly-removed members of rap’s demographic, Lamar’s appeal is undeniable – smart, fast-paced, and meaningful, his songs weave together a style that appears both poetic and experimental. It is at the precipice of art and pop.

With song XXX.’s analysis of racial tensions in America with the line “Ain’t no Black Power when your baby killed by a coward”, or the repeated phrase of “Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me”, it becomes apparent that though the majority of America may feel disaffected by the struggles of minorities, Kendrick is not a part of that majority. He speaks for the voiceless.

Though snubbed year after year at the Grammy’s, Lamar pushes himself to demonstrate a bigger, better sound. If his commentary on police brutality and discrimination as a whole aren’t enough to communicate his vision, this esteemed award certainly is. After 100+ years, he is the first artist outside of the classical or jazz genres to receive any sort of recognition. Such a revelation proves the extent of black influence on contemporary thought; rather than continuing to exacerbate the issue of underrepresentation by continuing to snub artists in different genres, the panel chose to demonstrate a disconnect from American society – a space in which the black man’s voice is heard at the time when America needs it most.

As opposed to trying to censor, dilute, or manipulate Lamar’s message, the panel voted in favor of the unadulterated truth – the good, the bad, the ugly.

Outspokenness and candor aren’t viewed as handicaps, but rather, the characteristics of a champion.

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K-Dot Makes His Mark