Why Bruno Mars is Wrongly Accused of Cultural Appropriation
For me, it is really aggravating to hear things from so many different people, friends, and colleagues about how Bruno is “stealing” from black artists and music that has originations with African-American people. Since when did music of any kind become exclusive to one culture, race, or ethnicity? Yes, the roots of certain music have come from different parts of the world. For example, Delta Blues coming from Mississippi/Memphis/Tennessee - Does that mean that someone from New York City cannot or is not allowed to play this music, create music like this, and be successful with this? That sounds ludicrous!
So, this is what I gathered from YouTuber, Seren Sensei Aishitemasu. She proclaimed that it is not right how Bruno Mars, a “wedding singer”, is “appropriating black music and culture” despite not being black. She goes on to say that Bruno Mars has taken word-for-word from previous generations of black music and does not change or improve upon it.
I’m sorry, not sorry - this is just complete BS. The reason why this woman is so upset is because Bruno Mars is the most successful artist of 2017, and his album, 24k Magic, is so successful, and he is not of the black race. Essentially, it’s not fair for an artist who is not black to be successful with music that has black roots. I’m actually laughing right now.
Bruno Mars literally paid homage to the artists who influenced him to make this album, on stage, at the American Music Awards last year. He paid homage in tweets, in interviews (on 60 Minutes), and through other social media. The fact that he is so successful is just an amazing achievement with the music he made. He used many sounds of 90s R&B in “Finesse”, while being extremely influenced in James Brown’s style in “Perm”, and the list goes on. I can say that with any artist! ANY ARTIST! Everyone has their own sound, yes, and it can be as original as it can be, but everyone has been influenced by an artist he or she grew up listening. You cannot sit here and tell me that Bruno Mars’ album does not sound like his brand. This is exactly where his music is maturing from his Doo-Waps and Hooligans and Unorthodox Jukebox. This is Bruno Mars’ sound.
Regardless of brand identity and sound, let’s get into this whole cultural appropriation from a different perspective. Where does Bruno Mars talk about social issues and things of this nature because of the music he creates? No where. He is not using his music for that. Guess what - He does not have to either! In my opinion, music does not have to exclusively speak about social justice and issues that are going on around the world. Many people, including myself, use music to get away from all of that. Many people use music as a coping device to get away from what is going on for a temporary moment. Music is supposed to bring us together. So, why alienate a group of people that could potentially listen to my music? The fact that there are people upset about him not doing this is beyond me. Frankly, it is none of your business why he is or is not speaking about certain issues publicly. He wants to use his platform to bring people together with amazing music. That is all!
Why does he have to attribute his music to his Filipino heritage? Why does he have to attribute his music to his Puerto Rican heritage? With that logic, then I have to attribute all of my music to my Italian and Irish heritage, and I will be unable to perform and create music of “other” cultures. That, in itself, is prejudice, and is hypocritical of this entire argument.
Where does he say that the music he wrote on 24k Magic was originally by him and in a style that no one has ever done before. No Where.
So, all of a sudden, being successful with music that “is not his” is now a crime? Get off your high horse and listen up for a second.
Music is for everyone, for every race, for every person, regardless of who you are or from where you have come.
If you do not like that he is successful, make better music. And do not give me the argument that he word-for-word stole music from others. He did not. Stealing is when you literally take the lyrics and/or melody from another artist. In no way, shape, or form did he do this. So what if he has a sound that sounded like James Brown or a 90s R&B band? The fact that he took his own spin on it is just amazing in and of itself. How about you trying to do that?
Bruno Mars was able to take his take on the influences that affected him the most! He took old school Funk and R&B and incorporated modern and hip musical elements into each tune making each one a hit! You cannot say that the entire album was from an era because there are many different influences from many artists. However, I am not here to do a review of the album. I am just here to poke holes in the “logic” that I see on twitter.
How about you try using influences from music that is not considered “popular” anymore and creating a number 1 album that has gone multi-platinum in this music climate. I won’t hold my breath.
Anyone with a brain knows that Bruno Mars and his band are incredible musicians. In this music climate, no artist besides the greats do his or her songs in the original keys as the album. How do I know Bruno does this? I was there for his 24k Magic Tour in NYC, and I was a nerd enough to check his keys with my little piano application from my phone. I just couldn’t believe he was singing so well, so high! His choreography is elite, with his dancing skills being some of the best in the game, and he is not considered a dancer. His musicianship with the band is unbelievable. His band has some of the greatest musicians in the industry right now! The way he performed his songs live were more than anyone could have expected. The visuals, the show, the performance…All of it was extraordinary. If he’s no better than a karaoke singer or wedding singer, then I really want him in my wedding band.
Where were all of you when he wrote this album in November of 2016? I did not hear any of this when this album was released. Everyone was saying how good it was! Now it’s stolen? It is only stolen because he is now successful. Hypocrites, get out of here.
When he wrote this album, he explicitly said that he wrote this to bring people together and party.
I’ll say it again. Music is for everyone, for every race, for every person, regardless of who you are or from where you have come.
I’ll end with two great quotes from Billy Joel and Charlie Parker.
“I Think music in itself is healing. It’s and explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” - Billy Joel
“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you do not live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” - Charlie Parker