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Tyler, the Creator ‘thanks’ Theresa May in scathing Brit Awards acceptance speech

Josh Milton February 19, 2020

US rapper Tyler the Creator collects his award for International Male Solo Artist during the BRIT Awards 2020. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

American rapper Tyler, the Creator “thanked” former British prime minister Theresa May in a scathing and satirical acceptance speech at the Brit Awards.

Accepting the award for Best international Male Solo Artist, Tyler mocked May, who had banned the songwriter from the UK in 2015 when she was home secretary.

“Thank you Theresa May,” the musician said, “I know she’s at home, p****d off.”

‘I want to give a special shout-out.’

The rapper – whose real name is Tyler Okonma – was denied entry to the UK despite having a tour planned.

A controversial figure, the 28-year-old was branded “violently anti-gay” by media charity GLAAD in 2011 for using slurs such as “f****t” in lyrics, as well as references to rape and domestic violence.

Tyler, The Creator accepts the International Male Solo Artist award from Paloma Faith. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Tyler, The Creator accepts the International Male Solo Artist award from Paloma Faith. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

The Home Office said in a statement at the time: “Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values.”

Four years on, Okonma, now able to visit the UK after a lengthy legal battle, dedicated his big Brits win to the Conservative lawmaker.

“I want to give a special shout-out to someone who I hold dear to my heart, who made it that I couldn’t come to this country five years ago,” the artist said after accepting his award.

Gay rapper used homophobic slurs in his music.

In his early career, Tyler came under heavy criticism for his use of homophobic slurs, particularly in his debut album Goblin, released in 2011.

He defended himself in a NME interview at the time, telling the magazine: “I’m not homophobic. I just think ‘f****t’ hits and hurts people. It hits.

“And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids.

“We don’t think about that s**t. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic.”

Tyler, The Creator performs live on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on September 16, 2019 in London, England. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
Tyler, The Creator performs live on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on September 16, 2019 in London, England. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

In August 2015 he was banned from entering the UK by May, who said that his lyrics “encouraged violence and intolerance of homosexuality”.

He insisted again that he wasn’t homophobic, telling The Guardian: “The thing that irks me about it is that the paper saying I am denied entry to the UK clearly states that these songs were written from [the perspective of] an alter ego – which means they obviously did some research on these songs that they’re detaining me for.

“So the argument is right there! This song is written from an alter ego – I’m not like this!”

Tyler, the Creator ‘kisses white boys’.

At around the same time, Tyler began to address his own sexuality.

“I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA,” he tweeted in April 2015.

Flower Boy, the first album released by Tyler after the UK ban, did more to encourage speculation on his sexuality, with lyrics such as: “Next line will have ’em like, ‘Whoa’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004.”

One track, “Garden Shed”, talks about hiding in a “garden shed for the garçons”, with Tyler adding: “Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase.”

Speaking to Fantastic Man following the album’s release, he said that he “didn’t know” why he’d written the lyrics.

“It’s a literal question [his sexuality] and the thing about humans is we hate not having an answer.

“We hate not being in the know. So people will bulls**t answers, make s**t up, instead of being just, like… I don’t know. There are some things that are just unexplainable.”

More: Brit Awards 2020, Theresa May, Tyler the Creator

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