When most people think of the Pulitzer Prize, they think of outstanding achievements in journalism or the arts — true literary shining lights. This year, that wasn’t exactly the case.

For the first time in the event’s more than 100-year history, rap was recognized at this year’s ceremony on Monday. Rapper Kendrick Lamar earned the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music —  his album “DAMN” earned him the nod.

Surely his music must be genius work and sound absolutely wonderful, right? That depends what you consider “good.”

The chorus of his top-charting song from this “DAMN” album, called “Humble,” features a chorus that starts with “B****, be humble (hol’ up, b****) / Sit down (hol’ up, lil’, hol’ up, lil’ b****)” — and virtually repeats itself word for word for 16 lines.

That’s not the most vulgar part of the rap, of course. He crudely speaks about women’s bodies, uses the N-word, and mixes in a few F-bombs for shock effect.

Keep in mind: That rap was a Billboard Hot 100 top single in 2017, and it won three Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and Best Music Video.

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This work from Lamar is hardly the same as when Bob Dylan — whom Rolling Stone magazine declared the greatest solo artist of all time in 2010 — finally received a Pulitzer in 2008. At that time, Dylan was 66 years old. This year’s award went to a 30-year-old rapper whose lyrics are incredibly disrespectful to women.

Still, the Pulitzer Prize committee likely had this strategy as it headed into the whole affair: Stray from the normal standards — and give the award to a popular young rapper so the awards can regain some relevance at a time that people are quickly losing trust in the media.

The plan appeared to work, as many on the Left were (predictably) excited about Lamar’s win — especially because of the identity politics surrounding it.

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However, not everyone was enamored by the announcement.

Some actually thought it hurt the award ceremony’s integrity and validity to give an award to such a young and vulgar rapper.



Remember, this is the same Kendrick Lamar whose 2015 album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” featured a bunch of shirtless men holding alcohol and money while laughing and posing for a photo in front of a dead white judge (with Xs over his eyes) in front of the White House.

The Pulitzer committee clearly seized the opportunity to do something different and be applauded by America’s progressive community. That said, it would not be surprising to see the group hand out more seemingly absurd awards to undeserving artists in the future so that it brings more attention to their organization.

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Kendrick Lamar: The DAMN. Tour [1], [2], CC BY 2.0, by Kenny Sun)