Tyler, the Creator was obviously excited to win his very first Grammy on Sunday night, taking home best rap album for Igor and giving a jubilant acceptance speech flanked by his sobbing mom and his Odd Future compatriot Jasper Dolphin. But minutes later, he admitted to reporters backstage that he’d love to break out of those rap or urban categories and be recognized on a more mainstream level.
“I’m half and half on it,” he said, responding to a question about the Grammy voting process being called into question over the past week, thanks in part to a high-profile lawsuit filed by ousted Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan, and how he feels about it. “On one side, I’m very grateful that what I made could just 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. To me, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word. Why can’t we just be in pop?
“Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment,” he continued. “Like, ‘Oh, my little cousin wants to play the game, let’s give him an unplugged controller so he can shut up and feel good about it.’ That’s what it felt like a bit. Another half of me is very grateful that my art 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 than what a lot of people here listen to. I’m grateful and like ‘eh.'”
This was Tyler’s third nomination and first win. He was previously up for best rap album in 2017 for Flower Boy and competed for album of the year in 2012 thanks to his contributions to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. Tyler has already hit the stage twice Sunday night: Once for a fiery performance of “Earfquake” and “New Magic Wand” and once to accept his best rap album prize.