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Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer moment

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ON MONDAY Kendrick Lamar, a 30-year-old rapper from Compton, Los Angeles, won the Pulitzer prize for music. It was an extraordinary moment, and not just because it’s the first time the prize has been awarded to somebody who isn’t a classical or jazz musician. The jury awarded the prize to the wrong album. 

“DAMN.”, the winning record, is “virtuosic”, just as the jurors say. Over the spare, stuttering beats of trap, a popular sub-genre of hip hop from the Deep South, Mr Lamar invites us to eavesdrop as he confesses to a host of sins—pride, lust, greed, anger, hypocrisy—as well as his fear of being judged, by his fire-and-brimstone God. Hip hop is still a genre that revels in braggadocio and conspicuous consumption, and Mr Lamar is no different from his peers. He understands temptation. But where some rappers look in the mirror and see playboy-gangsters, Lamar sees a sinner, tormented by his success and by his responsibility to those less fortunate than…Continue reading

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