As the blog’s resident Kendrick Lamar stan (I actually listened to Section 80 today on the ride to the big city and back, unaware this was about to happen), some unexpected news today with the release of the Pulitzer Prizes:
Since (at least) the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city in 2012, the singularity of Kendrick Lamar has been plainly evident. But with the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 2018 being given to the Compton rapper for his 2017 album DAMN., his exceptionalism is now officially historic: It’s the first time in the prize’s history that it has been given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz community.
“A virtuosic song collection,” the Pulitzer board writes of DAMN., “unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” In addition to topping many year-end best lists (including ours), DAMN. was awarded five Grammys, though it lost out on album of the year to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic.
He actually had a bunch of mix tapes, an EP, and his first album, Section 80 released prior to good kid, and a very solid argument could be made that Section 80 is up there with the best debut rap album by an artist alongside Kanye’s College Dropout, Biggie’s Ready to Die, and of course Illmatic. I don’t know why they think good kid is his debut album. Regardless, this award was for DAMN., which has received widespread critical acclaim.
I don’t personally care for it as much as the other albums I have mentioned, but it is a pretty amazing album, and shortly after purchasing it I used mp3tag and shuffled the song order to play it in reverse as I read on the intertrons, a move that Kendrick himself did when he re-released it as a collecter’s edition:
“I think like a week after the album came out, [fans] realized you can play the album backwards,” he told MTV News in August. “It plays as a full story and even a better rhythm. It’s one of my favorite rhythms and tempos within the album. It’s something that we definitely premeditate while we’re in the studio.”
He continued of the reverse order: “I don’t think the story necessarily changes, I think the feel changes. The initial vibe listening from the top all the way to the bottom is…this aggression and this attitude. You know, ‘DNA,’ and exposing who I really am. You listen from the back end, and it’s almost the duality and the contrast of the intricate Kendrick Lamar. Both of these pieces are who I am.”
At any rate, there’s no doubt the man is insanely talented, and this is a well deserved award. BTW- I know I have mentioned this several times already, but Kendrick’s work in the Black Panther soundtrack is just excellent. It’s probably my favorite album this year. It’s just so god damned listenable.