Kendrick Lamar Just Became the First Rapper to Win a Pulitzer Prize

Who needs a Best Album Grammy when you have a Pulitzer?

On Monday, Kendrick Lamar was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The rapper was given the award for his 2017 classic DAMN.

This is the first time a rapper has won a Pulitzer.

READ: Kendrick Lamar’s “Element” Owes Itself To Famed Black Photographer Gordon Parks

This is how the Pulitzer Board described DAMN. on its website:

Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.

The board also linked to “DNA,” the second song on the album.

READ: Kendrick Lamar Reveals Original DAMN. Title, Ranks Albums in New Interview

A rapper winning the award is a radical development. This is the first time a person won a Pulitzer for music that wasn’t classical or jazz. Making things more interesting is the fact the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer was Wynton Marsalis, and that didn’t happen until 1997, for his work Blood on the Fields.

Kendrick, who was famously snubbed for an Album of the Year award at the Grammys, has not reacted to winning the award.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

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Dimas Sanfiorenzo

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