Rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music Monday, making history as the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious prize.
The revered rapper is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts who don’t live on the pop charts.
The 30-year-old won the prize for “DAMN.,” his raw and powerful Grammy-winning album. The Pulitzer board said Monday the album is “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” He will win $15,000.
Lamar has been lauded for his deep lyrical content, politically charged live performances, and his profound mix of hip-hop, spoken word, jazz, soul, funk, poetry and African sounds. Since emerging on the music scene with the 2011 album “Section.80,” he has achieved the perfect mix of commercial appeal and critical respect.
The Pulitzer board has awarded special honors to Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams, but a popular figure like Lamar has never won the prize for music. In 1997, Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz act to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.
Last week American rapper Nicki Minaj premiered two new tracks: "Chun-Li" and "Barbie Tingz."
Minaj first took to Twitter on April 10 to announce "Barbie Tingz" and "Chun-Li" and share their artwork.
The songs are vintage Minaj, with elastic beats, combative words and the West Indian accent she slips into many of her songs. “Chun-Li” was produced by J. Reid for Chevy Musik and “Barbie Tingz” was produced by Chevy Musik, with both songs co-produced by Minaj.
Minaj has not released an album since 2014’s “The Pinkprint” but she’s been popping up on tracks with Lil Uzi Vert (“The Way Life Goes”), Travis Scott (“Krippy Kush (Remix)”), Yo Gotti (“Rake It Up”), and Migos with Cardi B (“Motorsport”). She also joined Migos’ Quavo on “She for Keeps” from Quality Control’s “Control the Streets Vol. 1” compilation.
Chun-Li sees Nicki out for blood, with the track named after a Street Fighter character who seeks revenge after her father's murder. Similarly, the track's lyrics feature Minaj railing against everyone "painting me out to be the bad guy" and referencing negative press she's received, as her enemies "get on their (expletive) keyboards and make me the bad guy."
Chun-Li is a perfectly fine release, but Barbie Tingz is the real highlight of the two tracks, a welcome reminder of Nicki's addictive flow over a beat that sounds made for summertime radio play. While Minaj possibly references her feud with fellow rapper Remy Ma on Barbie Tingz' lyrics, rapping, "How you still dissin', still can’t find some hits," the afternoon's real drama came after both tracks' premieres, when Minaj brought up her rumored bad blood with Cardi over their Migos collaboration Motorsport.