Rhapsody in Black

Kendrick Lamar unshackled the Pulitzer Prize from white supremacy

Rapper Kendrick Lamar has blended modern hip-hop with music such as spoken word, jazz and soul.Provided

Rhapsody in Black - Kendrick Lamar


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October 13, 2022

Editor's note: The music in this story contains explicit language.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his album DAMN. Many people were excited and happy about such a change in the awarding of the prize, while others loathed it. One type of hip-hop Lamar is known for is conscious or political hip-hop, where the artist reflects on real-life issues and political unrest. This might be one reason for the controversy around the prize.

Musical selections from Kendrick Lamar


This track is a single from the Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN. It showcases Lamar’s preacher-like delivery with strong suggestive lyrics that raise complex issues in the Black community including an introspective look at how the role of Black women shaped his life.

“The Heart Part 5”

This track is an example of conscious hip-hop. Each verse is a reflection on life, which is also represented in the music video with deepfakes of modern Black figures. This is just one of many examples of how Lamar is taking hip-hop and creating powerful art that not only represents Black culture but criticizes it, too.

“We Cry Together”

This short film is a powerful example of abusive love bundled up in a master class on simple spoken words. A lo-fi hip-hop track backs an all-to-real argument between a couple. Some have interpreted this as the current state of hip-hop, which just shows Lamar’s critical thoughts on Black culture.


Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher