grammys 2020

Tyler, the Creator Calls His Best Rap Album Grammy Win a ‘Backhanded Compliment’

“Why can’t we just be in pop?” Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tyler, the Creator graciously accepted his Best Rap Album statuette, his first ever win, at the 2020 Grammys Sunday night, but as soon as he got to the press room backstage, the IGOR singer had something to get off his chest. Sure, he’s willing to accept his album is great … but does the Recording Academy automatically consider his music rap just because he’s black?

“I’m half and half on it,” Tyler told reporters. “On one side, I’m very grateful that what I make can 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, they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word; that’s a politically correct way of using the N-word to me. So when I hear that I’m just like, why can’t we just be in pop?”

“Half of me feels like the rap nomination is a backhanded compliment,” he continued. “Like my little cousin wants to play the game, wants me to unplug the controller so he can shut up and feel good about it. That’s what it felt like to me. But the other half of me is very grateful that the art that I make can be acknowledged on a level like this, when I don’t do the radio stuff. I’m not played in Target. I’m in a whole different world from what people here listen to, so I’m grateful.”

The California-born musician also reflected on the sudden, shocking death of legendary Laker Kobe Bryant on Sunday. “That news was heavy, especially just being in L.A.,” said Tyler. “If you’re from Los Angeles, that shit is really, really heavy. Rest in peace to Kobe. That hurt, but also we took a win just being from Los Angeles and taking that home.”

Reporting by Eve Barlow.

Tyler Call Best Rap Album Grammy a ‘Backhanded Compliment’