Like Simone, the roots of hip hop are absolutely political. From the blunt social commentary delivered by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" in 1982 to N.W.A. shining a light on police brutality in the late 1980s, this art form has always represented where we are as a culture and where we are headed.
Poets represented the streets in a way that made you feel not so alone, whether you were in Compton, the Bronx, or Chi-Town.
In the Trump era, where the citizenry is being divided -- torn apart — and American life debased, courtesy of a charlatan posing as the leader of the free world, political art is more important than ever. That is one of the many reasons why the Pulitzer Prize Board, which usually gives its music prize to classical or jazz works, recognized Lamar's "Damn."
The board called "Damn" "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" is a punch in the gut, a wake-up call to people who are in intellectual comas. The Pulitzer honor goes to Lamar, who is 29, but it signifies so much more: blackness and the revolutionary spirit, not respectability politics, and you would have to be soulless to not feel and hear him. He is the soundtrack of youth culture today and that is why the country should be listening.