Black American Performers

If Kendrick Lamar keeps this up, he may just be this generation’s Duke Ellington.

If Kendrick Lamar keeps this up, he may just be this generation’s Duke Ellington.

Kendrick Lamar’s recent award of the Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album Damn. is as much of a cultural watershed moment as Duke Ellington’s infamous Carnegie Hall debut in 1943. At this pivotal point in Ellington’s career, he had already cemented his status as one of the most accomplished and prolific musicians of his generation. With hits such as “Black and Tan Fantasy,” “Mood Indigo,” “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing),” “Take the A Train,” and many others, Ellington was sonically redefining black music while serving as one of the central sirens of a burgeoning, modern black subjectivity.