According to the Los Angeles Times, Compton native and acclaimed hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album “Damn.” It is the first time work outside of the classical and jazz genres has been recognized in that category.
In today’s announcement, the Pulitzer board described the album as a “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.”
“Damn,” released on April 14, 2017, is Lamar’s fourth studio album following 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “Section.80,” released in 2011. In January “Damn” won the Grammy for best rap album and was among the nominees for album of the year.
One of the nation’s most renowned performing arts institutions has taken a major step in recognizing hip-hop culture’s influence on society. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.recently announced the creation of its hip-hop culture council.
The council was developed in efforts to bring more hip-hop-focused programming to the institution. Through an array of different events, hip-hop culture will be examined through the lens of workshops, film screenings, panels, and virtual programs. Rapper Q-Tip will spearhead the council which is made up of a collective of influential individuals that are connected to hip-hop. Amongst some of the individuals who will sit on the council are Questlove of The Roots, rapper Common, rapstress MC Lyte, producer Mimi Valdes, DJ Bobbito Garciaand Interactive One’s own Kierna Mayo. Rapper LL Cool J—who was honored by Kennedy Center last year—will also be a part of the council.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such an extraordinary group of icons, innovators, and contributors to the Culture,” said Simone Eccleston, Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at the Kennedy Center in a statement. “As we continue to build the complex ecosystem that supports this program, the Council becomes an integral piece in sustaining Hip Hop’s presence at the Center.” Events that are lined up include a screening of the film Wild Style and a live performance inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.
The creation of the council comes at a time where many institutions are bringing hip-hop’s influence to the forefront. In November 2017, it was announced that the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. planned on creating an anthology to capture the essence of hip-hop history and highlight how its culture has left an indelible mark on the world. Check out Q-Tip’s introduction to the Kennedy Center’s hip-hop culture council below.
Young Thug has a huge heart and a soft spot for Planned Parenthood. After performing at New York City’s Terminal 5, the rapper, who is also a father of six, shared that he would donate all the proceeds to the non-profit organization.
“I’m donating the proceeds from my show tonight to @PPFA,” he tweeted. “I was a teenage parent. Planned + unplanned parenthood is beautiful.” Young Thug had his first child at the tender age of 17, so he knows the aid that Planned Parenthood brings to many families.
The organization, which provides reproductive health care, has recently been under fire for their abortion services. In particular, Donald Trump signed legislation just a few months back aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups.The trickle down has since continued as four Indiana clinics were officially shut down on Friday (June 30) after the state’s governor signed a bill to stop Medicaid funding for the organization in May.
Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School, the Compton Unified School District. “My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” Dre said in a statement. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”
The complex will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater. The performing arts center will also be a resource for the Compton community at large, officials say. The hip-hop mogul and Compton native will be directly involved in raising the remaining funds needed to complete the center, which is expected to break ground by 2020.
“The support that Dre has shown to Compton over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees. Micah Ali, vice chairman of the district’s board of education, said the new high school will be the most modern public school complex ever built.
Nicki Minaj is quite the giver. A week after paying off college loans and tuition for some of her fans, Minaj revealed more of her philanthropic efforts, via social media. Apparently, the Queens native has been quietly sending money to an impoverished village in India for the last couple of years. And her kindness is already paying off.
Thanks to the “No Frauds” rapper’s generosity, villagers now have access to a computer center, a reading program, two water wells, and more.“This is the kind of thing that makes me feel the most proud,” Minaj wrote on Instagram Saturday (May 20).“The money I’ve sent to this village in India for the last couple years [via my Pastor Lydia Sloley], has gotten them a computer center, a tailoring institute, a reading program and two water wells.“
“We complain about the most ridiculous little things when some [people] don’t even have clean water,” she continued. “Blessings to India. Our work is far from done.”Minaj added that she’ll be dropping more details about her charity work in the “near future,” in case fans want to get involved.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of DJ Suede, also known as “the Remix God,” sent him a video clip of traditional gospel music legend Pastor Shirley Caesar’s 2007 remake of her 1988 classic “Hold My Mule.” Suede, an Atlanta-based mixer with an Instagram following of almost 100K, has said that he’ll remix anything. Since his mom was also a big fan of the 11 time Grammy Award-winning artist, he just remixed the song for fun, posting it online with the tag, “Grandma, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?”
In the original song, Caesar tells the story of an 86-year-old man named Shouting John, who joined a church that didn’t believe in dancing and speaking in tongues. John was kicked put out of the church for shouting too loudly during the sermon.
He countered his ouster with a testimony that God had blessed him as a farmer.”Look!” he shouted. “I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lambs, rams, hogs, dogs, chickens, turkeys, rabbits … you name it!” (See the 5:45 mark in the YouTube video above.) That line became the foundation for Suede’s “You Name It! ” remix.
“It was just a song,” Suede told Big Tigger, on Atlanta’s V103 radio station. Then, on November 13, R&B star Chris Brown reposted the song with his signature choreography with the hastag #UNameItChallenge on his Instagram page. It has since racked up over 2.3 million views on Brown’s page, motivating thousands of people to share it and to answer the challenge with their own video dance responses.
Eric B. & Rakim will reunite for the first time in 24 years when the legendary hip-hop duo embark on a 2017 tour, Eric B.’s representative, Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory, confirmed to Rolling Stone Saturday. “Back by popular demand,” Eric B. adds.
In addition to the tour, Gregory says the duo will look to remaster all four of their albums alongside filming new videos for classic tracks like “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Paid in Full.” While there are currently no plans to record new material, Gregory says the legendary group is taking it one step at a time.
“All too often we embrace our icons only after it’s too late,” Gregory tells Rolling Stone. “By having such an important group come together now, it’s an opportunity for parents and their kids to go to a show together and see music that created the foundation for what many of today’s artists were built upon.”
The genesis of the reunion began in July when Eric B. attended Rakim’s headlining benefit set for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in Newark, New Jersey. It was the first time the duo was in the same place for years. “They just started talking and organically reconnecting over time and realizing that they needed to do this,” Gregory says.
The surprise announcement seeped out earlier this week when the verified Eric B. & Rakim Twitter teased, “It’s official. You heard it here first. We are back.”
On Saturday morning, the Twitter feed brought news of the reunion tour, with the duo tweeting “Preparations are under way for #EricBandRakim’s return. It’s been a long time…” and asking where the Eric B. & Rakim tour should “jump off”; New York, Las Vegas, London and Australia were the options provided.
Gregory said that the current plan is a worldwide tour to start next year. He admits it’s too early to ascertain venue sizes, but the duo are looking into playing select festivals as part of the tour.
Eric B. & Rakim recorded four classic albums together – including their influential 1987 LP Paid in Full and its 1988 follow-up Follow the Leader – before splitting up in 1993. Rakim, who inspired an entire generation of rappers, including Nas and Jay Z, embarked on a solo career without reconnecting with his former DJ and partner.
VH1 is pushing out another stellar tribute for Salt-N-Pepa at this year’s Hip Hop Honors. The network announced on Friday (July 8) that Ashanti, Amber Rose, Keke Palmer and Dreezy will be paying homage to the first all-female rap crew, comprised of Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandy “Pepa” Denton and DJ Spinderella.
The ladies will be shaking their thang (SNP pun intended) alongside other surprise guests for the evening’s tributes to fellow honorees Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and Lil’ Kim. As previously announced, Pharrell, Timbaland and Nelly Furtado among others will salute Elliot while Common, Da Brat, Naughty By Nature and more will be on-hand to hail Queen Latifah.
While hip-hop still comes to terms with the death of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, surviving members from A Tribe Called Quest announced Sunday (April 3) a memorial would be held in honor of their late lyrical brother.
“Please meet us at St. Albans Park in Queens, NY on April 4th at 10:30am,” Organizers wrote. “The first 200 fans to arrive will receive something very special!”
As Q-Tip famously once said “Back in the day on the boulevard of Linden” both Tip and Phife Dawg grew up in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens. Since Phife’s death on March 22nd, fans of the funky diabetic have made efforts to rename a street and park where he along with Q-Tip would often go and freestyle.
If you’re planning to attend, please arrive early because all of Queens and hip-hop will be sure to show love to the Five Footer.