Kendrick Lamar First Rapper to Win Pulitzer Prize

Kendrick Lamar made history on Monday, becoming the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music thanks to his 2017 album DAMN..

"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," reads the citation.

The 30-year-old Lamar is also the first popular musician of his caliber to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which typically honors classical compositions. The Pulitzer board has given honors to George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, Hank Williams, John Coltrain and Bob Dylan, but those were all special honors, notes The Associated Press.

Lamar will receive $15,000, in addition to the award.

The Pulitzer Prize joins Lamar's 12 Grammy Awards, although he has notably not won the Album of the Year category yet. His work has earned both critical and commercial acclaim, with songs like "Humble," "Alright" and "The Blacker The Berry." His other albums include Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly. Lamar also put together the soundtrack for Black Panther and has collaborated with Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Future, Sia and Beyonce.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, Lamar said DAMN. might have saved his life.

"It taught me how to deal with... emotions," Lamar said. "Better than a lot of my peers. When you see kids doing things that the world calls harmful or a threat, it's because they don't know how to deal with their emotions. When you have a father in your life, you do something, he'll look at you and say, "What the fuck is you doing?" Putting you in your place. Making you feel this small. That was a privilege for me. My peers, their mothers and grandmothers may have taught them the love and the care, but they couldn't teach them that.

Andrew Sean Greer's comic queer novel Less earned the Pulitzer in Fiction. Martyna Majok won the Drama prize for the play Cost of Living and Jack E. Davis won the History prize for The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.


Caroline Fraser's Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, won the Biography prize. Frank Bidart's collection of poems won the Poetry prize and General Nonfiction went to James Forman Jr.'s Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

You can check out the full list of Pulitzer Prize winners here.