UMF spotlights Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize Winning hip hop album as kickoff to spring New Commons events

FARMINGTON, ME  (January 14, 2019)— American rapper Kendrick Lamar’s critically-acclaimed album “DAMN.” is the first work to be spotlighted by the spring series of the New Commons Project at the University of Maine at Farmington.

A grassroots music and cultural genre with social justice, respect and self-worth at its core, hip-hop or rap music was developed in the United States by urban African Americans in the late 1970s. Lamar, a rapper, songwriter and record producer, spent over a decade coming up in the ranks of rap music’s most successful artists to become recognized by many as the new king of hip-hop.

Since the album’s release in 2017, it was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, named the Year-End number one album of 2017 by Billboard and won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

In 2018, the album made history as the first non-classical and non-jazz album to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music with the Pulitzer Prize Board calling it, “a virtuoso song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

During his career, Lamar has received many accolades including 12 Grammy Awards, 5 NAACP Image Awards for his music and duos with Beyoncé’ and Rihanna, multiple international music awards and being named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016 by Time magazine.

Started in fall 2018, UMF’s New Commons Project is building a contemporary cultural commons of 24 works of art, literature and ideas submitted by members of the Maine community. This semester will feature a rich sampling of unique events, public discussions, talks and community engagement projects on Lamar’s award winning album, a novel-in-verse on immigration, the FEDCO seed catalog and one of Beethoven’s greatest symphonies.

Upcoming Events:

“ ‘Ain’t a  DAMN. Thing Changed’: Hip Hop’s History of Social Engagement”
In this talk, Stephen Grandchamp, postdoctoral fellow of Digital and Public Humanities at UMF, will provide an introduction to hip hop by exploring Kendrick Lamar in context of the genre’s sustained engagement with political and social issues.
Friday, Jan. 25, 11:45 a.m., Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center

KEYNOTE EVENT: “A Dialogue on DAMN.,” with Anthony B. Pinn and Monica Miller

Anthony B. Pinn
Anthony B. Pinn
Monica Miller
Monica Miller

Join Anthony B. Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University, and Monica Miller, associate professor of religion and Africana studies at Lehigh University, for a lively consideration of the relationship between religion and hip hop, with particular attention to the work of Kendrick Lamar.
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 11:45 a.m., Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 4p.m., Jewett Hall Auditorium, University of Maine at Augusta



“Milo – Hip Hop Concert”
Internationally-acclaimed hip hop recording artist Milo visits the campus of UMF for a special musical performance co-sponsored with Arts Farmington, Emery Community Arts Center and WUMF.
Thursday, Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m., UMF Emery Community Arts Center

New Commons Film Series: “BLACKkKLANSMAN”
Spike Lee’s 2018 film provocatively explores the true story of an African-American detective who tries to infiltrate a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Following the screening, Delphine Letort, associate professor in English at the University of Le Mans and author of “The Spike Lee Brand: A Study of Documentary Filmmaking;” Eliane Elmaleh, professor of American culture at the University of Le Mans; Sarah Maline, associate professor art history at UMF; N. Andre Siamundele, assistant professor of French at UMF; and Michael Schoeppner, assistant professor of history at UMF, will provide critical analysis of the film.
Friday, Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m., Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center

Symposium on “BLACKkKLANSMAN”
Join Delphine Letort; Eliane Elmaleh; Charles Nero, professor of rhetoric, screen and film studies at Bates College; and Michael Johnson, professor of English at UMF, for an exciting day-long examination of BLACKkKLANSMAN, the cinema of Spike Lee and Black filmmaking co-sponsored by the New Commons Project and Global Education.
Saturday, Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Rm. 101 UMF Fusion Center

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Events are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, or to submit a nomination for the next round of selections to be announced in 2019, visit the website at:

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Media Contact: Kristen Case, associate professor of English, 207-778-7239,

Image: RP189-026A
Photo Caption: Anthony B. Pinn
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

Image: RP189-026B
Photo Caption: Monica Miller
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

Image: RP189-026C
Photo Caption: Milo
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064

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