Last week, Bruno Mars was at the center of a fiery debate throughout social media. While some were accusing the artist of culturally appropriating black music and culture, others were defending the singer. The That’s What I Like singer’s mother was Filipina while his father is from Puerto Rico, but Mars’ music often samples elements from the funk, reggae, R&B and hip-hop genres, which are historically and traditionally have their roots in African-American culture. While some people like the blend of genres that are prevalent in his music, others have said that said blend is an appropriation of their culture. The conversation got started with this clip from YouTube Red series The Grapevine, where panelist Seren Sensei Aishitemasu called Mars “100% a cultural appropriator,” among other things. See for yourself in the two-minute clip that has since gone viral.
— hannie (@hannahmburrell) March 9, 2018
Many people took to Twitter to agree with the panelist. One Twitter user called the Grammy-Award winner “the modern Elvis,” referencing Elvis Presley allegedly stealing music from African-American artists. Someone else agreed with Aishitemasu and called the Finesse singer “not original. He’s not great. He’s not an innovator.”
He’s not original. He’s not great. He’s not an innovator. Nothing she said was wrong or dragging him just speaking on his privilege.
— BlackDahlia. (@wayytoobrooklyn) March 9, 2018
— Game Green Gang (@SolaceJones)
Many artists also went on the social media platform to defend the critically acclaimed singer. Charlie Wilson, a legendary R&B singer that Mars is accused of copying, said that Mars is “bringing back that classic New Jack/R&B sound to the masses when it was left for dead years ago” and even called Mars his friend. Activist and writer Shaun King asked, “Are people saying that Bruno Mars shouldn’t sing? Or that when he sings he needs to somehow whiten that — up and sound more like Rod Stewart.”
— Charlie Wilson (@ImCharlieWilson) March 9, 2018
I just want to be practical here.
Are people saying that Bruno Mars shouldn’t sing? Or that when he sings he needs to somehow whiten that shit up and sound more like Rod Stewart.
I’m dead serious.
What type of music is this man “allowed” to do?
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 9, 2018
The polarizing singer has not replied to the accusations and is currently touring in Europe. However, Billboard announced that his song Finesse, which features rapper Cardi B, is number one on their ‘Radio Songs Chart.’ This makes him the man with most number ones on that chart. He also tied nine other artists for most awards won a few nights ago at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.