Lamar, who earlier this year became the first person of colour to top the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, won an award in the music category.
He joins a roll call of former winners who include Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland, but no rock, pop or rap artists - until now.
The 2017 Pulitzer Prize for music went to "Angel's Bone", an opera by composer Du Yun. I [better] not ever hear one of you n****s speak with anything less than respect in your mouth for Kendrick Lamar.
Thanks to the success of the album, Lamar was able to win several awards, including Album of the Year at the 2017 Bet Hip-Hop Awards and Hip-Hop Album of the Year at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
"A virtuosic song collection", the Pulitzer board writes of DAMN. It wasn't even until 1998 that the foundation chose to broaden its scope from strictly Classical music in an attempt to attract a wider range of American music - and even after that it was primarily Jazz artists who had won.
Lamar also recently presided over another ambitious, if commercially and artistically motivated, artistic vehicle with Black Panther: The Album.
The Washington Post also won the investigative reporting prize for revealing decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
Lamar is from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, the home of hip-hop pioneers NWA.
"But we listened to it and there was zero dissent", Hajdu said.
Lamar, 30 was also the first music victor in the 100-year history of the Pulitzers to come from outside of the world of classical or jazz.
Lamar is yet to comment on the iconic win online.
The album was picked for the Award because of the subject and the musical work. "The idea that that's not classical music, or that's not experimental music, or that's not art music is completely unfounded". It has given the prize previously to jazz artists including Wynton Marsalis and Ornette Coleman.
'This is a special award because of rap music.
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