Despite a chorus of social media users claiming Bruno Mars has appropriated Black music, several Black musicians are saying otherwise.
The controversy began Friday, March 9, when a Twitter user posted a video of a writer/activist who slammed Mars as a karaoke singer.
“He takes preexisting work and he just completely, word for word, recreates it … he does not change it, he does not improve upon it,” Seren Sensei said in a video for “The Grapevine” on YouTube. “We want our Black culture from non-Black bodies. And Bruno Mars is like, ‘I’ll give it to you!’”
But not everyone agrees, including some veteran R&B crooners.
Charlie Wilson, who wanted to “Join in the convo and stand up for my friend @BrunoMars!,” had nothing but nice things to say about Mars, who said he was “a genuine talent” and “one of the best we have” and Mars is “destined to be one of the greats.”
Bruno with [“24K Magic”] helped bring back that classic New Jack/R&B sound to the masses when it was left for dead years ago and hard for artists to get that sound back on the mainstream radar,” Wilson in a note on Twitter. “Bruno’s songs on this album are original and no different from any other artist pulling inspiration from genres before him.”
— Charlie Wilson (@ImCharlieWilson) March 9, 2018
Rapper Rapsody simply tweeted a message of encouragement to Mars, writing, “Keep making that funky ish, @BrunoMars!!!! Do you always .”
She also retweeted posts producer 9th wonder made Monday, March 12 who discussed how the power of influence can shape musical tastes.
“NOW! Do I agree with the sediment of mainstream only accepts ‘Black’ sounds such as ’24 Karat Magic’ from certain boxes….in some ways…” he tweeted. “MAYBE…but DONALD GLOVER made AWAKEN MY LOVE…which is 1970s PIMP BLACK…..which also made the album of the year category.”
“So is it Bruno Mars fault that…he was influenced by BabyFace, Teddy Riley, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis…around the same time from a hip-hop side I was influenced by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and The Beatminerz? This is a Sociology study on influence and exposure….
“….not…’Oh Bruno wanna just copy us….,’ he added. “How many of us Black folk has seen people from different backgrounds growing up surrounded by Black culture and being heavily influenced by it? How many “Jon B”’s was at your high school? How many Teena Marie’s was it in the 80s?”
Then he concludes by giving props to other blue-eyed soul stars before Mars.
Y’all make me sick.
— 9th Wonder (@9thwonder) March 12, 2018