Tyler, The Creator set out to win a GRAMMY award, making his ambitions clear on the intro of his seminal Bastard mixtape stating, “My goal in life is a GRAMMY, hopefully mom’ll attend the Ceremony with all my homies.” Fast forward nearly a decade later, and Tyler finally had his moment on-stage with close friend Jasper and his mother by his side as he graciously accepted the award for Best Rap Album for IGOR. Backstage during interviews with the press pool, Tyler sparked controversy by accusing the Recording Academy of racial bias for allegedly grouping all artists of color into the “Urban” category regardless of genre.
“On one side I’m very grateful that what I made could be acknowledged in a world like this, but also it sucks that whenever “we” – and I mean guys that look like me – do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything, they always put it in a rap or “urban” category which is – and I don’t like that “urban” word, it’s just a politically correct way to say the ‘N-word’ to me. So when I hear that I’m just like, ‘why can’t we just be in pop’ you know what I mean? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment, like ‘oh my little cousin wants to play the game, let’s give him the unplugged controller so he could shut up and feel good about it.’ That’s what it felt like a bit. But another half of me is very grateful that the art that I made could be acknowledged on a level like this.”
Tyler’s grievance comes on the heels of Sean “Diddy” Combs slamming the Recording Academy at a recent Pre-Grammy Gala event, saying “black music has never been respected by the GRAMMYs.” In past years, artists like Kanye West and JAY-Z have either boycotted or threatened to boycott the show for similar reasons. Watch Tyler’s full statement above, where he balances his gratitude for finally winning the award while calling attention to the Academy overlooking artists by categorizing them as “urban.”