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Debate Over Bruno Mars’ Alleged Cultural Appropriation Reignited


Months after the release of his old school R&B-filled album “24K Magic,” Bruno Mars is back front and center in the online discussion of cultural appropriation.

Many Twitter users are fielding the question after YouTube channel, “The Grapevine,” posted a video featuring a debate about Mars’ place in R&B — or Black — music.

It went viral after Twitter user @hannahmburrell said Seren Sensei accurately articulated why she “hates” the Finesse singer.

“Bruno Mars, 100 percent, is a cultural appropriator,” Sensei says. “He is racially ambiguous. He is not Black — at all. And he plays up his racial ambiguity to be able to … cross genres.”

Sensei further pointed out that comparisons to Michael Jackson, who initially struggled to  get his music videos played on MTV, are null since today, people “prefer their Black music and their Black culture from a non-Black face.”

She also slammed Mars as unoriginal compared to Jackson and Prince, both of whom he has been compared to by critics, saying he “takes preexisting work and he just completely, word for word, recreates it … he does not change it, he does not improve upon it … he’s a karaoke singer.”

“We want our Black culture from non-Black bodies,” she reiterates. “And Bruno Mars is like, ‘I’ll give it to you!”

The clip and responses to it opened up the floodgates over what Mars’ place in music means for the culture.

Several agreed with Sensei’s take.

“100 percent agree,” one man remarked. “He’s not an intently malicious guy, he supports and works with other Black creators, but his music + entire aesthetic are the FARTHEST thing from original or unique or innovative or award-worthy to me.

“It’s Barmitzvah/Quinceañera music backed by a capitalist machine.”

Others pointed out Mars, whose father is Puerto Rican/Jewish and mother is Philippino, regularly credits his influencers and is not appropriating.

“BRUNO MARS IS NOT CULTURALLY APPROPRIATING,” someone said. “Appropriation is erasure. It’s not acknowledging the origin of an art or style. BRUNO FOREVER praises the Black greats of the Past and Present. Gtfoh lol. Y’all just mad at his success. BIG MAD 😂”

“So Bruno Mars is being held accountable for ‘cultural appropriation,’ but he constantly pays homage and appreciates every artist who has ever influenced him,” another Twitter user said. “The word appropriation is being taken out of context so bad. It’s not funny.”

And the vocalist himself has explained his penchant for Black music.

“When you say ‘Black music,’ understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Motown. Black people created it all,” he told Latina magazine last year. “Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland [Africa]. So, in my world, Black music means everything. It’s what gives America its swag.”

And several remained unbothered, demanding folks leave the singer alone and vowing to keep listening to Mars’ tunes.

“All Bruno Mars wanna do is sniff is cocaine, curl his hair, and dance his ass off to old school love songs,” someone said. “Leave that little man alone and go to work.”


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