Hip-hop is a force of good, a game-changer and a life-saver. “This thing that’s a hobby, or a pastime or a passion for us, a lot of people here that shit kept us out of trouble,” he explained. “And it allowed us to change our families’ lives, our friends’ lives, our lives.”

He recounted hearing the prose of the old school, from Jay-Z to Wu-Tang Clan and others, and thinking at the time, the “community is just crazy that the things that we were able to see and experience because of this thing called rap and hip-hop. With rap, it’s like a pathway for a lot of us to really just go, to leave, to experience.”

Tyler also paid tribute to those who laid the blueprint for himself and others. “I wouldn’t be here,” he continued, “if it weren’t for Q-Tip, the Andre 3000s, the Chad Hugos, the Pharrells, the Kanye Wests, the Missy Elliotts, who no one ever brings up. Busta Rhymes, Hype Williams, who just took it to this different world.”

That collection of luminaries, and others, he thanked for “opening the doors and throwing the key.”

With three awards, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion were the top winners at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards, telecast Tuesday (Oct. 5) on BET. Tyler, The Creator was close behind with two awards in competition.

Watch Tyler’s speech below.

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