The California rapper is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, which is usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts.
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.
The Pulitzer board has awarded special honours to Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Williams. His song "Humble" also picked up best rap performance, best rap song and best music video.
Lamar's label, Top Dawg Entertainment, acknowledged the win on Twitter - saying that they better not hear anyone "speak with anything less than respect in your mouth for Kendrick Lamar". Its final award was in the editorial cartooning for a series profiling a real-life family of refugees in the US.
He captured the moment a vehicle struck several people protesting against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on his last day of work for a Virginia newspaper.
Bestselling book Less by Andrew Sean Greer does not lack praise or recognition.
An important environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that brings crucial attention to Earth's 10th-largest body of water, one of the planet's most diverse and productive marine ecosystems.
Frank Bidart's "Half-Light" was the poetry victor.
General Nonfiction: Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr. These were just the literary awards, prizes are awarded in twenty-one categories.
Organisers said it offered "affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life".
Matthew Trammell of Pitchfork said of Damn: "Storytelling has been Lamar's greatest skill and most primary mission, to put into (lots of) words what it's like to grow up as he did - to articulate, in human terms, the intimate specifics of daily self-defense from your surroundings".