Tyler The Creator Calls His Best Rap Grammy A ‘Backhanded Compliment’

Tyler The Creator may be grateful for his win for Best Rap Album at the 2020 Grammys, but that doesn’t mean he was entirely satisfied by the nomination. During a press conference after winning the award, Tyler answered a journalist’s question about the Grammys’ recently-revamped voting process by calling his nomination for Best Rap Album a “backhanded compliment” offered by an out-of-touch academy basing genre categorizations on skin color rather than musical content.


In the video above, Tyler says, “One one side, I’m very grateful that what I made can be acknowledged in a world like this.” However, he measures his enthusiasm by pointing out the hypocrisy of labeling his album as a “rap” one despite his own intentions to use less rap on Igor than any album before. “It sucks that we — and I mean guys who look like me — do anything genre-bending or anything, they also put it in a ‘rap’ or ‘urban’ category.”

Tyler further noted his view of that pattern as soft racism, saying that, “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. It’s just a politically-correct way to say the N-word to me. When I hear that, I’m like, ‘Why can’t we be in pop?’ 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 can shut up and feel good about it.'”

He did express gratitude, but his opinion isn’t all that uncommon in entertainment industry circles. Just take a look at my own take from last week, where I make the same argument he does — that he deserved a nomination in the Album Of The Year category far more than in the Best Rap Album one.

You can also watch Tyler’s chaotic Grammys performance of “New Magic Wand” here.