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What Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Means for Hip-Hop

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Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album, “DAMN.” Lamar is the first rapper to win a Pulitzer, and “DAMN.” is the first hip-hop composition to be honored since the establishment of the music prize in 1943.

In a refreshing change of pace, could it be that the Pulitzer is the award to make the Grammys obsolete in terms of acknowledging master works of art echoing the tones of a group of people misheard by the white privileged? Lamar’s historic win boldly shapes an incision of blackness within elite spaces and begs the question: What does this mean for hip-hop music?

Perhaps it means the world might finally be catching up to rap. The Pulitzer is known for rewarding classical and, occasionally, jazz compositions. A choice that has topped the pop charts and resonated so widely is as overdue as it is unexpected. The Pulitzer board deemed the album “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

Truth of the matter is that hip-hop has historically been one of the ways for black Americans to see a reflection of their own lives in mainstream art. Akil Houston, a hip-hop scholar and assistant professor at the University of Ohio, says: “Rap was the black community’s CNN.”

For example, N.W.A became famous for not holding back about what it was like to be young, black and terrorized by the police. Ice Cube even referred to himself as a journalist “reporting on his community.”

More recently, Lamar has connected his honest experiences growing up in Compton with a successful purgative, venting style of rap. His chilling video for “Alright” shows a black teen lying dead in the street, another running from a Klan-like group, and officers slamming one more to the ground. Lamar performed the song on top of a graffiti-covered squad car at the 2015 BET Awards. Despite his mainstream success, Lamar still keeps his music authentic, mirroring the lens through which sees the world.  In “The Heart, Party 4,” a pre-album track from “Damn,” Lamar wrote, “Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk / Tell ’em that God comin’ / And Russia need a replay button, y’all up to something,” keeping the consistency of his emotions from suppressive, sometimes even political, outrage.

It seems the world is less blinded by the ability for complex, multi-layered work to come from less-traditional outlets. Perhaps each art form just has to pay its dues in culture and prove an impact can outlast the trend of one generation. Maybe now society is more inclined to attempt to understand others through their art. Whatever the case may be, Lamar is the soundtrack for youth culture outraged by the Trump era, where police brutality still sees no consequences and harmless black men are arrested while waiting for their friend in a Starbucks. And the echoes of offense are creating art resonating far beyond the streets of Compton. We all feel Lamar’s resentment and it’s leaving us shook as we take a look at where we are and where we are headed as a culture.

Pop Culture

Fans of Mac Miller Held Emotional Vigil at Park He Named His First Album After

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Mac Miller passed away on Sept. 7 of a reported overdose and was pronounced dead at his Studio City, California home. He was 26 years old. But his hometown of Pittsburgh honored the late rapper with a touching public vigil Tuesday. Thousands showed up to Frick Blue Slide Park, which inspired the title of Miller’s 2011 debut album, Blue Slide Park.

“It was an emotional night,” said Jamie Byron after attending the vigil. Fans decorated the park with art, flowers and candles.

Byron, who at 25 is just one year younger than Miller, told Better than the Weekend he started listening to the late rapper as a freshman in college. Miller’s first album became the soundtrack to his first year of college.

“My roommate and I would listen to Blue Slide Park every day freshman year. It was in the background when we’d do homework, just chill, or get ready to go out,” said Byron. “Going through college is a weird time, and Mac’s music made sense to us because he was our age and from our city, so it felt good to hear.

Fans sang along to Miller’s music for hours. Chants of “412” which is the area code of Pittsburgh and “Thank you, Mac” circulated throughout the night, said Byron.

Byron said he had chills when the DJ stopped for the night and the crowd just broke into “Frick Park Market” for one last moment of honor.

RIP, Mac.

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This NBA Star Is Going to Harvard

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Oh, back to school. Back to school — to prove to dad he’s not a fool. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is going back to school — and he’s going to Harvard.

Irving is headlining the newest group of athletes to enroll in a Harvard Business School course called “Crossover Into Business,” aimed at helping sports stars maximize their earning potential during and after their playing careers. The baller is joined in the class by Denver Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap and former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett, among others. Longtime NBA forwards Chris Boshand Caron Butler previously completed the program, per Boston.com.

In June, Boston.com asked Irving about his interests away from the basketball court.

“I feel like if I had the same amount of time that I was afforded [for basketball] to learn about business and investments, I think I’d probably be in a pretty different place,” he said. “You just gotta learn as best you can on your own time.”

Taking a course at Harvard is a solid step in that process.

At the same time, Irving is working back from knee surgery that forced him to miss the latter stages of the 2017-18 season, including the playoffs.

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Paul McCartney Says He Masturbated with John Lennon (No, Really)

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I’ll never be able to listen to the line: “I get my with a little help from my friends” the same way again.

Paul McCartney regaled writer Chris Heath in GQ with a story about how he, John Lennon and some of their friends masturbated together before the pair became world-famous members of the Beatles.

McCartney told GQ: “What it was was over at John’s house, and it was just a group of us. And instead of just getting roaring drunk and partying—I don’t even know if we were staying over or anything—we were all just in these chairs, and the lights were out, and somebody started masturbating, so we all did.”

When asked if the “ritual” took place more than once, McCartney said: “I think it was a one-off. Or maybe it was like a two-off. It wasn’t a big thing. But, you know, it was just the kind of thing you didn’t think much of. It was just a group.”

“Yeah, it’s quite raunchy when you think about it,” he acknowledged. “There’s so many things like that from when you’re a kid that you look back on and you’re, ‘Did we do that?’ But it was good harmless fun. It didn’t hurt anyone. Not even Brigitte Bardot.”

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