But the board in the mid-1990s introduced changes to make the award more inclusive.
Below is a tweet from the Pulitzer Prize committee, followed by two videos from the album.
The California rapper is also the most commercially successful musician to receive the award, which is usually reserved for critically acclaimed classical acts.
"DAMN.", Lamar's third album, topped the Billboard 200 album charts for three weeks on its release previous year.
Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, told the New York Times: "It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way". This is the 102nd year of the contest, established by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.
Public Service: jointly awarded to The New York Times, for reporting led by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and The New Yorker, for reporting by Ronan Farrow.
In a historic win, Kendrick Lamar on Monday was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his album DAMN.
"It means that the jury and the board judging system worked as it's supposed to - the best work was awarded a Pulitzer Prize".
Pulitzers are the most prestigious honour in American journalism.
The 30-year-old California rapper was the first music victor in the 100-year history of the Pulitzers to come from outside of the world of classical or jazz.
In other categories, the Arizona Republic and USA Today Network won the explanatory reporting prize for a multi-format look at the challenges and consequences of building the Mexican border wall that was a centerpiece of Trump's campaign.
The New York Times also shared the honour for national reporting with The Washington Post for their coverage of the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 United States presidential election.
For a robust body of work that conveyed a canny and often daring perspective on visual art in America, encompassing the personal, the political, the pure and the profane.
The drama prize went to Martyna Majok for "Cost of Living", Carolyn Fraser's work on author Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Prairie Fires", won for biography.