A new day a new issue. Sadly today it’s on Bruno Mars. Of all the crazy things going on in the world the internet wants to break down about Bruno Mars. Ok lets unpack this.
I love Bruno Mars and most of the people I know do. But sadly there is this is small minority of the internet who are not here for Bruno Mars. They think based on the music he makes he is culturally appropriating.
I have been following Bruno Mars career since the beginning when he was doing features on B.O.B and Travie Mccoy from Gym Class Heroes songs.
Then when his first album came out Doo-Wops & Hooligans I liked it. It was that cute, happy, pop music that was universally liked by all cultures but hadn’t become too big yet. It was positive music that took his influence of growing up in Hawaii.
Then his second album came out Unorthodox Jukebox and it this was when people started to see him in a different light. His music started to sound a lot more like Michael Jackson and Prince in a lot of his songs and the old school vibe he gave off. He started to become even more of a house hold name where everyone was looking for Bruno. Treasure was the track that very much gave off that ’70s-’80s vibe of Michael, Prince, Rick James or any funk group from the time.
Then once he did the superbowl people were hype. All generations, all colors, all cultures were here for it. He gave an amazing performance with his dancing to his drumming and playing other instruments to singing and gave off James Brown vibes. My mom who doesn’t like today’s music loves Bruno and that performance.
So Really What’s the Problem? 24 K Magic.
I personally was not a big fan of this album. This album was more of a new-jack swing, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Baby Face, Bobby Brown music which I love. It started with Uptown Funk which I liked for what it was.
When I first heard the lead single 24 K Magic I was not feeling it. I felt that the Bruno I fell in love with was lost. I didn’t like the way he was trying to be so bling bling with everything.
So for a long time I personally was not feeling this new Bruno and didn’t listen to his album until early 2018. When I did eventually listen to it I thought it was ok. Not my favorite album by him at all. I liked a few of the songs but really it didn’t touch me the way his other albums did.
Then in early 2018 he put out the Finesse Remix with Cardi B which he dedicated to In Living Color the popular ’90s sketch comedy show. I liked his song and it’s ’90s references.
Fast forward and he wins Album of the Year and a bunch of other awards that I and many others felt he shouldn’t have won. I just feel it wasn’t album of the year material.
Still love Bruno but this was just not my album cycle and depending what kind of direction he goes into next I will check it out and decided if I like it.
So you like Bruno, Most people like Bruno So what’s the Issue?
The issue is a small population of humans thinks that Bruno Mars is a cultural appropriator who makes music that is just black music done by a non-black body. This has been an issue for a long time but all came to ahead when a Youtube roundtable of black millennials talking about current issues in the news and things going on in the black community. So for this weeks video they did a discussion on Bruno Mars and whether or not he is a cultural appropriator. It was a good conversation with points on both sides. Then twitter got a hold of a clip of one of the people on the roundtable giving her piece on how she feels and it went viral & bam everyone and their mother were up in arms and turned the Bruno fans upside down.
— hannie (@hannahmburrell) March 9, 2018
Now this has been a big issue for basically ever especially when talking about white people who culturally appropriate like your Miley, Iggy, Post-Malone, Katy Perry ect. You can check out a blog post I did on this very issue if you wanna hear more about this.
With Bruno it’s a little tricky. Peter Hernandez aka Bruno Mars is half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish descent (from Ukraine and Hungary), and Filipino with some Spanish ancestry and is from Hawaii. No where in him is he black though a lot of black people think he might be mixed with it due to the way he looks, dresses and does his hair.
He is just a non-black POC who is towing the line into black culture for a more wide group of people. Which I think what gets on people’s nerves is there are talented black people making the same kind of music as Bruno yet get no play and no one is checking for them. Black people create this music and this culture yet we don’t get to reap the benefits. It feels like if your black or just darker than a penny no one wants to see you doing what is your culture. If a white or non-black POC can do it then it’s better than if a black person did it.
Take K-Pop/J-Pop and different forms of Asian hip-hop. Almost all of their music over there is basically taken from black music. And lets just be real so many cultures all over the world take from black American culture and music it is what it is. We have just become so influential out there that everyone wants to be like us. It just be better if we got some recognition for it not only when their in hot water (I’m looking at you China).
Anyway do I personally think that Bruno is a cultural appropriator? No. That’s the same way I feel about some white artist doing hip-hop and R&B. I don’t think they set out to take over these genera and just hate on us. For the most part I just think they want to be apart of the culture but you have these executives who are taking advantage of the fact that non-black people can sell black music and black culture easier than black people. It’s a sad fact of realty that is the foundation of this country. What we should continue to call out are those out here really appropriating with no recognition or care to our culture. Because as we know Bruno has an all black back up band and has on multiple occasions said that this music and music in general comes from black people. He said it in an interview and when excepting his Grammy.
And even outside of Bruno Mars where do non-black POCs fit in the hip-hop and R&B genera? As we know Puerto Ricos did help to create hip-hop in the Bronx in the late ’70s and there were many Latinos/Latinas that were big in soul/R&B back in the day. Now we have people like Cardi B who is racially ambiguous Latina who like Bruno was able to jump up to the top of the charts faster than many black artist. Then you have some of these soundcloud rappers like lil Xan, Lil Pump & 69 who are white Mexican who are also racially ambiguous and blowing up as well along their white rapper friends. All of these folks are let into our culture because we let them and then when they say something out of line we get made but this is our fault. We let them speak for us and that can come bite us in the but. I mean I do think latino/latinas and other non-black POCs are important in this culture and should be included but like all black music we should let them in and not just give it to them like we shouldn’t give away our music to anyone.
And I know there are also a lot of people who look to Bruno to make their type of “R&B” because R&B today is too “hard” trying to be melodic hip-hop being too vulgar and all those artist are black. Now all those people are not out here on the internet and only listen to the radio or whats popular and then they don’t see the legit R&B artist making real music out here. Artist like Anderson. Paak, Janelle Monae, Jasmine Sullivan, SZA, The Weeknd, Ne-Yo, Solange, Frank Ocean, Miguel, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, Luke James, The Internet, Phony Ppl and so many others you just need to use your google and look up some artist and music you like making it. It’s not just Bruno.
In the long and the short of it Bruno Mars is pretty much a very non-problematic artist who doesn’t wanna disrespect us or take away from us just be apart of our culture and I respect that. Now I’m not saying he won’t one day slip up and say something wrong but were all human. But honestly Bruno is just out here living his best life and if tomorrow he didn’t wanna do this type of music anymore I’d still be listening to his music.