Tyler, the Creator snagged the first Grammy of his career on Sunday night, winning Best Rap Album for his genre-bending 2019 record Igor. It’s another impressive accomplishment for the 28-year-old artist, who first gained popularity for his shock rap tactics in Los Angeles music crew Odd Future.
But in the press room after the win, Tyler noted that the rap nomination felt like a “backhanded the compliment.” “I’m half and half on it,” he said, about the win. “On one side I am very grateful that what I make can be acknowledged in a world like this. But it also sucks that whenever guys who look like me do anything that’s genre-bending they always put it in the urban category. I don’t like the word urban. It’s a correct way of using the n-word to me. Why can’t we just be in pop?”
The Best Rap Album award comes less than 24 hours after one of the genre’s leading voices called the Recording Academy out for how it has treated black artists. During the Pre-Grammy Gala, evening’s honoree Sean “Diddy” Combs, said, “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys. So right now, this current situation, it’s not a revelation. I’m officially starting a clock. Y’all have 365 days to get your s— together.”
In his acceptance speech, Tyler thanked his mother, his managers, and closed out by shouting out one of his idols, Pharrell Williams: “Growing up feeling left of center to a lot of stuff I saw on TV, that man allowed me to be comfortable with myself and opened up doors that were closed to me,” he said.