Losing out on one of the biggest awards in your field can be a disappointing, humbling experience. But for the right person, it can be the motivation that inspires them to perfect their craft, becoming even more proficient and overcoming the faults that held them back in the first place.
According to Pharrell Williams, that’s what happened to Tyler The Creator when he came up short of the Best Rap Album award at the 2018 Grammy Awards. His 2017 album Flower Boy was lightyears away from his prior work and took inspiration from the work of Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, and Max Martin, maturing Tyler’s sound and expanding listeners’ understanding of the rap rebel’s musicianship and worldview.
But that wasn’t enough to impress Grammy voters… not yet. The first episode of Hulu’s newly released docuseries RapCaviar Presents, based on Spotify’s RapCaviar playlists, focuses on Tyler The Creator and finds Pharrell (one of Tyler’s greatest mentors) sharing his thoughts on Tyler’s growth — which he says was prompted in part by that 2018 Grammys loss.
In fact, he says at the 29-minute mark of the episode, the loss was “one of the greatest things that ever happened to [Tyler], ’cause it motivated him in a different kind of way. Doing that to him just expedited his growth. He realized he needed to go harder — and he did.” The result was, of course, the 2019 album Igor, which totally revamped Tyler’s approach.
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That album won the Best Rap Album Grammy in 2020… but it also prompted Tyler to directly confront how an album of mostly singing still got classified as a rap album, calling the win a “backhanded compliment.” That didn’t stop Pharrell from sharing his heartfelt congrats at the time
RapCaviar Presents is now streaming on Hulu.