Seriously, I didn’t even realize there was a Pulitzer Prize for music. Be that as it may, Kendrick “Kung Fu Kenny” Lamar Duckworth has gone ahead and big-leagued every rapper to ever do it by winning a Pulitzer Prize for music for his album Damn. I don’t even know what to do with this information aside from be proud and say “That boy good” over and over again over a meal of chicken and more chicken.
The thing that makes it so interesting is that I’m fairly certain—I have no real proof here—that it’s an award that Lamar probably never thought he’d win because do folks even know they’re up for Pulitzers? Real question.
Like, did somebody at Top Dawg Entertainment submit Damn. to the Pulitzer committee and they were like, “Cool, we got you, fam”? Or did we just get more proof of how important representation and having an advocate are for getting into spaces that have normally been reserved for those viewed as more “respectable”?
This award usually goes to jazz or classical-music artists. We won’t know if there’s some kind of sea change happening or if this was an anomaly and somebody made the world’s greatest case ever and turned a room into Kendrick Lamar fans. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I never saw this coming. And you didn’t, either. Maybe you’re the non-University of Maryland, Baltimore County, alumnus who had them in your Sweet 16. So maybe you knew. The rest of us? Nawl. In fact, here are 10 awards I figured a hip-hop artist would win before a freakin’ Pulitzer:
1. The Suburbs to the Hood Lifetime Achievement Award Presented by the Iowa Caucus for Rap Artist Most Present in Honda Accords in the Great Moline Area.
2. The financial aid award from any HBCU except Howard University.
3. The Award Tour for Excellence in Touring With Muhammad, My Man.
4. Literally every award Mo’Nique won for her role in the movie Precious that made her the most decorated comedian of all time.
5. A Stellar Award for contributions to gospel, because rappers cuss a lot but they also talk about God a lot, too, and Pastor be cussing in his chambers because God ain’t done with none of us yet.
6. A Stella Award for filing a frivolous lawsuit—I’m looking at everybody involved in any negotiations involving Drake, Cash Money, Young Money CMB, J. Prince, etc.
7. The O.J. Award that Chris Rock mentioned back in 1996 that all black folks were supposed to get in the mail after O.J. Simpson got off for the murders he committed.
8. The Award Award for Outstanding Achievement in Being Awarded for Shit You Didn’t Know You Were Nominated For.
9. An Emmy Award for street journalism, since Chuck D called rap “CNN for black people.”
10. A Tony Award for method acting, since a significant portion of rappers are basically living 24-7 plays about the lives of being criminals anyway.