The 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced April 16. The winners include Less: A Novel, by Andrew Sean Greer (fiction); Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser (biography); Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart (poetry); DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar (music); Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr. (general nonfiction); and The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis (history).
Lin-Manuel Miranda worked for six years to do the book, music, and lyrics for his hip-hop musical Hamilton. The musical explores the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the Caribbean, who came to America and helped found our country’s financial system and, of course, was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. The musical has won the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy, and 10 Tony awards. I love all 23,000 words of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton. The songs become earworms as they just make you replay them.
If you don’t have enough Hamilton $10 bills to get a pricey ticket to the Broadway production or time to wait in line for the cheaper Broadway lottery tickets for the play, check out the music CDs at the library from the original Broadway cast, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s backstage pass in Hamilton: The Revolution; and the book it is based on, Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton.
Sandy Blair was not having his best day, or decade for that matter, when he got word that Jamie Lynch had his heart cut out. In The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin, the child of the Sixties has been orphaned by the "Me" Decade. Now, it's 1983, and all of Blair's political ideals have earned him a middling career as a novelist and a lot of writer's block.
Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 picks up right where Ed Piskor's first phenomenal graphic novel left off. By 1981, the record industry has started to capitalize on the raw talent of urban youth. The sounds are slicker and the rhymes are tighter, but Piskor manages to find and highlight the raw edges of the musical movement.
Random Access Memories might have won Daft Punk their first Album-of-the-Year Grammy, but for fans of the group, the album seemed more like a victory lap than anything else. A demonstration that the French duo can do whatever and work with whomever they want.
Whom they apparently wanted to work with most was Nile Rodgers, the musician who revolutionized 1970s dance music with his band Chic and is at least partially responsible for hits by Diana Ross, David Bowie, and many more.
"Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow.
Who needs to think when your feet just go?"
Tom Tom Club - The Genius of Love
Ed Piskor cannot rap or dance. He is no good with turntables or sampling. What Piskor can do is draw, which is why Hip Hop Family Tree is such an important testament to honoring the innovators and pioneers of the culture.
Modern Vampires of the City is perhaps the catchiest, most joyous-sounding album to explore death that I have ever heard. The third release from collegiate prep rockers Vampire Weekend shows emotional and musical growth as lead singer Ezra Koening struggles with his own mortality.
An unseen beast trumpets mightily. There is a slight pause, then the drums approach, rolling across the sonic landscape. Picaresque, The Decemberists' densely-textured folk pop album, begins.
You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me documents Nathan Rabin's journey into two vastly different but equally mocked musical fan bases. Phish and Insane Clown Posse are about as far away as you can get from each other in terms of sound, lyrics, and subject matter. The one thing that they do have in common is that their fans have very few qualms about conscious-altering substances.
That's how Rabin finds his ticket in. He's been going through some issues lately—actually he's been going through issues his whole life. Lower-class with a foster-home upbringing, Rabin managed to carve a niche for himself in Chicago writing for the A.V. Club, a cultural review publication that belongs to The Onion. Despite that success, it certainly cannot help to be diagnosed bipolar, which is exactly what happened to Rabin on his journey.