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April 16, 2018 9:54 pm
Updated: April 17, 2018 1:55 pm

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And the Pulitzer Prize for music goes to Kendrick Lamar. Music expert Eric Alper talks about rap going mainstream.

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California rapper Kendrick Lamar on Monday became the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, one of the most prestigious arts awards in the United States.

Lamar, 30, won the Pulitzer for his 2017 album DAMN. and was also the first music winner in the 100-year history of the Pulitzers to come from outside of the world of classical or jazz.

READ MORE: Kendrick Lamar opens Grammy Awards with politically charged performance

Rap officially surpassed rock in 2017 as the biggest music genre in the United States.

Lamar‘s fusion of jazz, poetry and blues with social themes and love songs has made him one of the most innovative rappers of his generation.

The Pulitzer board on Monday hailed DAMN., which was released in April 2017, 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.”

Previous Pulitzer music winners include jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis and Ornette Coleman.

READ MORE: Subject of Pulitzer prize photograph shares her story

DAMN.,  Lamar‘s fourth album deals with religion, love, personal struggles and racial politics. It topped the Billboard 200 album charts for three weeks on its release last year and powered Lamar to five wins at the Grammy Awards in New York in January.

But the album failed to win the top Grammy prize – album of the year – in what was seen as a snub by music industry voters for the rap genre despite its rising popularity.

Only two hip-hop albums have ever won the Grammy for album of the year: Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999 and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004.

Lamar was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, the home of hip-hop pioneers NWA, and started making music as a 16-year-old.

He also produced the soundtrack for the 2018 superhero box-office hit film Black Panther, and performed the lead single Pray For Me with The Weeknd.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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