Bruno Mars is known for his mix of funk and R&B music, but he has recently been in the headlines because some are accusing him of cultural appropriation.
Various music genres such as hip hop and R&B, as well as soul, are cultivated from black culture. Considering that Mars is an R&B artist that’s Filipino, Puerto Rican, and white it begs the question, is Mars appropriating black culture?
The answer to that question is no, absolutely not.
Mars may utilize certain elements of black culture, but he shows his appreciation for African-Americans through his knowledge and recognition of soul and R&B. He has been in the music industry for years now, and not once has he said anything derogatory about black culture or people.
“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. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland. So, in my world, black music means everything,” said the funk artist to Latina magazine in 2017.
He has embraced and expanded black culture and the music genre to various ethnicities in an admirable way. His style has shown audiences and artists that people can still create music with an 80’s feel and to think outside the box. He shows the world that you don’t have to fit the status quo to be successful.
The soul musician’s treatment of African-American culture is nothing less than respectful, especially when compared to other mainstream artists like Miley Cyrus, who seemed to utilized black culture to display a phase within her career without truly understanding the legacy and meaning of hip hop as it pertains to the minority community.
Cyrus, the former Disney Channel star and country singer, turned to hip hop and raunchy behavior after her break up with Liam Hemsworth, but after a year or two went back to her former less edgy ways.
“She originally didn’t start off as R&B and hip hop so for her to basically jump into it and wearing attire that embraces black culture, you’re just doing it for the hype you’re not really doing it because you found a like for it,” said Kaylan Brown, a junior biochemistry student.
Mars shows his sincere love and dedication to the African-American community by keeping funk alive, and he has done a lot of philanthropy work. These projects include donating over one million dollars to Flint, Michigan to assist with their water crisis.
Junior biology pre-med student, Alayna Kelly, explained that she does not have an issue with Bruno Mars use of R&B and funk music.
“As an artist, he should have the artistic freedom to use whatever genre he feels compelled to use. He has always paid homage to those who pioneered R&B, so I think it’s crazy to refer to Bruno as a culture vulture when he has always respected the culture.”