Tyler the Creator Says He 'Never Fully Felt Accepted in Rap' After 2020 Grammy Awards Win
The rapper, 28, won the best rap album prize for his album Igor. Other nominees in the category were Revenge of the Dreamers III by Dreamville, Championships by Meek Mill, I Am > I Was by 21 Savage and The Lost Boy by YBN Cordae.
During his acceptance speech, Tyler said that he had “never fully felt accepted” in the rap music community.
“To my fans and my label,” he began. “Again, trusting my crazy ideas, to the new fans to the old ones, all the crazy stuff I do. I never fully felt accepted in rap and stuff so for y’all to always stand by me and get me here I really appreciate that.”
Tyler continued: “And I don’t know if he’s here but I really want to thank Pharrell Williams, because, again, growing up feeling left to center to a lot of stuff that I saw on TV, that man has allowed me to be comfortable with myself and has opened up doors that you guys cannot imagine, before I met him and when I met him, so thank you P. I love y’all.”
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Tyler (né Tyler Gregory Okonma) has previously said he had a boyfriend when he was a teenager and alluded to coming out of the closet on Twitter. In 2015, he wrote, “I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA.”
A line on one of the tracks on his 2017 album Flower Boy also said: “Next line will have ’em like ‘whoa’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004.”
However, the rapper has not explicitly labeled his sexuality.
In the press room after his speech, Tyler said he was “very grateful” for his win, but also criticized the Grammys for consistently placing “guys that look like me” in the rap and urban categories.
“I’m half and half on it,” he said. “On one side, I’m very grateful that what I made can 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 or that’s anything, they always put it in a rapper, urban category.”
The musician continued: “So half of me feels like the rap nomination is 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 go play.’ So that’s what it felt like in some ways. But another half of me is very grateful that the art that I made can be acknowledged on a level like this because I don’t do the radio stuff, I’m not played in Target. I’m in a whole different world that a lot of people can listen to so I’m grateful and I’m like, ‘Eh.’”
Tyler also paid tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who tragically died earlier on Sunday.
“That news was heavy, especially being in L.A. and just being here at the Staples Center are within a short period of time between him and Nipsey [Hussle], and if you’re from Los Angeles, depending on the sector you’re in, that s— is really, really heavy, so we took an L tonight,” he said.
Before winning his first Grammy, Tyler also performed at Sunday night’s awards show, joining other star-studded performers including the Jonas Brothers, Lizzo, Ariana Grande and Aerosmith.
Tune into the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.