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Pulitzer Finalist on Kendrick Lamar's Historic Win: "He’s One of the People That is Creating Truly New Music"

"He is such a bold and experimental and authentic artist."

On Monday, Kendrick Lamar became the first non-classical, non-jazz musician to win a Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album, DAMN.

In the wake of his historic win, Slate spoke with composers Michael Gilbertson and Ted Hearne, who were named as finalists in the music category alongside Lamar for their respective works, Quartet and Sound From the Bench

"I don’t put too much stock in prizes, but this is a really important year because Kendrick Lamar’s music is super important to me and to a lot of people," Hearne told Slate writer Marissa Martinelli. "Hip-hop as a genre has been important to me as a composer, but Kendrick’s work in particular. He is such a bold and experimental and authentic artist. He’s one of the people that is creating truly new music."

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Not only is Lamar's Pulitzer win a landmark achievement in his own career, but according to Hearne, it stands to be an agent for permanent change among the voting body. 

"It’s great that the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered prestigious in some circles, is recognizing a whole tradition of musical thinkers and bringing them into a space that has been, up until very recently, entirely white," Hearne added.

Gilbertson cited the work of New York City-based violinist, singer, and composer Caroline Shaw, a past Pulitzer winner who worked with Kanye West in 2015, as an example of what's possible when the classical world collides with hip-hop. "Maybe we’ll get some more cross-disciplinary collaborations coming out of this," he said.

You can read the full Slate interview here.


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