This past weekend, a debate on whether or not Bruno Mars used cultural appropriation with his 24K Magic album spread across social media. On Thursday night (Mar. 8) The Grapevine released a two-part, one-hour discussion regarding Bruno Mars and cultural appropriation. Seren Sensai’s portion of the discussion regarding Mars is what has garnered the most attention, in which she charged that Mars “is not an original artist” and that he “takes preexisting work and he completely word-for-word recreates.”
— hannie (@hannahmburrell) March 9, 2018
The video sparked outrage but also support, with the Black Twitter world divided on the matter. Celebrities such as Rapsody, 9th Wonder, and Charlie Wilson came to Mars defense. The latter posted a lengthy note praising Mars for his talent and thanked him for his Grammy Award-winning 24K Magic album.
One could wonder why the appropriation charges have come about now. The “That’s What I Like” singer didn’t face any charges of appropriation-until recently. Could it be that a Non-African American singer winning Grammy’s with African-American-cultured music is rubbing people the wrong way? Very possible. Could it be that legends such as Prince never winning Album of the Year while Bruno has, is ticking people off? Good chance.
But since Mars paid his respect to the Black music in his Grammy speech, it wouldn’t be completely accurate to label him as a culture vulture. Mars accumulated success long before his “24K Magic” era, with hits such as “The Lazy Song,” “Grenade” and “Locked Out Of Heaven.” Luckily, musicians such as Charlie Wilson have come to his defense. Without support from Black musicians, this accusation would be a hard stain to remove.