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Kendrick Wins And Beyoncé Shines: A Historic Week For Black Musicians

 Beyoncé, left, and Kendrick Lamar perform “Freedom” at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 26, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles/AP)
Beyoncé, left, and Kendrick Lamar perform “Freedom” at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 26, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles/AP)

With Melissa Block

Kendrick Lamar scores a Pulitzer. Beyoncé stuns us with her performance at Coachella. We’ll talk about what a big week it’s been for black musicians.

Guests: 

David Hajdu, Music critic for The Nation and 2018 Pulitzer music juror. The jury unanimously selected Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music. ( @davidhajdu_)

Rodney Carmichael, NPR Music hip-hop correspondent. ( @free_c_mike)

Fredara Hadley, Visiting professor of ethnomusicology at Oberlin College. ( @fredaraMareva)

From The Reading List: 

Billboard:  Beyonce’s Coachella Set Was a Landmark Celebration of HBCUs & Southern Black Culture — “Beyoncé may not have attended a HBCU herself or joined a Black sorority, but the feel and execution of her performance rang true with people familiar with HBCU and Black Greek fraternity/sorority traditions because she did more than scan YouTube for inspiration — she brought expert practitioners in-house to reimagine her catalog and stage show as if it were happening at Howard Homecoming instead of Coachella.”

NPR.org:  How The Pulitzer Jury Opened Its Doors To Hip-Hop — “Lamar’s Pulitzer win may constitute the first time a high-minded institution has seen fit to place an insurgent and equally popular rap artist, in the prime of his career, within America’s canon of heralded music composers. It comes at a time increasingly defined by unapologetic blackness, from the cinematic phenomenon of Black Panther (which Lamar coincidentally soundtracked) to last weekend’s epic festival black-out now known as Beychella.”

It’s been a banner week for black musicians. Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music – for his album DAMN. – which we’re hearing some of now. It’s a milestone: the first Pulitzer ever awarded for music that’s not classical or jazz. And Beyoncé becomes the first black woman ever to headline the Coachella music festival – where she wows with an epic set.

This hour, On Point: Kendrick Lamar. Beyoncé. And more.

— Melissa Block

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.