Tyler, the Creator might have won his first Grammy last night, but that doesn’t mean he completely agrees with the show’s nominations system. Tyler, the Creator’s Grammy win felt like a “backhanded compliment” to the artist, as he told reporters backstage at the awards show on Sunday, Jan. 26, as reported by AOL. Although he’s also “very grateful” for his achievement, he also has some issues with the category he was competing in in the first place.
After his performance with R&B legends Boyz II Men and Charlie Wilson, Tyler took home the Best Rap Album trophy for his critically acclaimed, number one album IGOR. But he had some mixed feelings about the win, specifically about labelling his album only as rap or hip-hop. “On one side, I’m very grateful that what I made could be acknowledged in the world like this,” he said about his win. “But it also sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending, they always put it in a ‘rapper/urban’ category.”
He continued to explain that he doesn’t like using words like “urban” to describe his music, as it feels like a way to relegate a lot of the music that Black people create. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word,” he said. “It’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. Why can’t we just be pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment.”
Tyler’s comments come after Diddy addressed the current Grammys controversy at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala. Former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan claimed in her lawsuit against the Academy that the nominations system was rigged, especially with biases against female artists and people of color, a sentiment that Diddy touched on in his speech.
“Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” Diddy said, as per PEOPLE. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be. So right now, this current situation, it’s not a revelation.” DJ Khaled, who won the Best Rap/Sung Performance award with John Legend and the late Nipsey Hussle, told Entertainment Tonight that he agreed with Diddy’s words. “That’s why I made sure [to say] this is for hip-hop,” he said of his acceptance speech. “We always have to do better.”
In response to Diddy’s comments, just hours before the show itself, the Recording Academy announced that they’re putting new initiatives in place in an attempt to increase diversity at the Grammys. The Academy plans to hire a dedicated Diversity & Inclusion Officer within the next 90 days and create a fund to be given annually to “different ‘women in music’ organizations,” as reported by PEOPLE.
“Artists – especially women and artists of color – had long begun demanding transparency and taking on our traditional power structure,” Harvey Mason Jr., Chairman and Interim CEO of the Recording Academy said in a statement. “We must take action. There is no excuse for waiting, especially when so many of our members have been tirelessly advocating for a bold new direction for so long.” Hopefully, these new initiatives will result in actual change at next year’s ceremony.