The fight to have black music properly recognized by the Grammys is an ongoing tug-of-war between its artists and the Recording Academy. But there were signs of progress when Tyler, The Creator walked away with this year's Best Rap Album award.
Tyler's IGOR undoubtedly deserved to be awarded a Grammy with the amount of praise it received upon its release. Yet, Tyler feels like describing the genre-blending project as a Rap/Urban album is merely the Recording Academy's way of pigeon-holing black artists.
"I'm half-and-half on it," Tyler said when asked about winning the award. "On one side I'm just grateful that what I made could 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 anything they always put it in a Rap or Urban category."
"I don't like that 'Urban' word," he continued. "It is just the politically correct way to say the n-word to me. So, when I hear that I'm like, 'Why can't we just be in Pop?' So, half of me felt like the Rap nomination was a backhanded compliment."
For years, black artists have complained about the Recording Academy's culturally bias approach to judging music. Yet, their complaints fell on deaf ears until former Grammys Chief Deborah Dugan filed a lawsuit against the Recording Academy this month. The lawsuit alleges instances of racial discrimination during the voting process.
Once these claims became news, Diddy used his speech during Clive Davis’ pre-Grammys gala to condemn the Recording Academy for disrespecting black art/artists.
"So I say this with love to the Grammys because you really need to know this, every year y’all be killing us man. Man, I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives," Diddy said. "In the great words of Erykah Badu, 'We are artists and we are sensitive about our shit.' Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be."
"So right now with this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on, and it’s not just going on in music, it’s going on in film, it’s going on in sports, it’s going around the word," he continued. "And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interest at heart to judge us. And that stops right now... I’m officially starting the clock—y’all got 365 days to get this shit together."