Kendrick Lamar has insisted his Pulitzer Prize win “should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago”.
In a wide-ranging cover interview with Vanity Fair, Loyalty rapper Kendrick discussed making history by becoming the first rapper to ever win a Pulitzer Prize, for album DAMN.
The 31-year-old Grammy Award-winning artist admitted winning the prestigious prize was a significant moment for hip-hop music, one that was long overdue.
“It was one of those things I heard about in school, but I never thought I’d be a part of it,” the Compton, Los Angeles rapper told the publication. “It should have happened with hip-hop a long time ago.”
“It took a long time for people to embrace us – people outside of our community, our culture – to see this not just as vocal lyrics, but to see that this is really pain, this is really hurt, this is really true stories of our lives on wax,” he continued.
“And now, for it to get the recognition that it deserves as a true art form, that’s not only great for myself, but it makes me feel good about hip-hop in general.”
Lamar, who has founded his own record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) signing Grammy Award nominee SZA, admitted he struggled with “survivor’s guilt” following his rapid rise to fame, but leaving his friends behind was not an option.
“I had three or four years of success and celebrity, but I can’t get rid of the 20 years of being with my homies, and knowing what they go through. I can’t throw that away. I know a lot of people who could – I’ve seen it – like ‘F**k you, I’ve got money now, I’m outta here, I don’t give a f**k about none of y’all.’ But that was something I couldn’t deal with.
“I had to sit back and analyse it and (figure out) other ways I could impact these people without physically trying to bring the whole hood inside a hotel,” he insisted.
Meanwhile he also addressed an incident at a concert when a white female fan he brought onstage rapped the n-word to him.
“I’ve been on this earth for 30 years, and there’s been so many things a Caucasian person said I couldn’t do,” he explained. “Get good credit. Buy a house in an urban city. So many things – ’you can’t do that’ – whether it’s from afar or close up,” he said.
“So if I say this is my word, let me have this one word, please let me have that word.”