Bruno Mars was the subject of heated Twitter discourse this weekend, after he was accused of cultural appropriation.
The ‘Finesse’ star came under fire as part of a online roundtable discussion, which saw writer Seren Sensei hit out at Mars for appropriating black music. The video quickly ent viral, racking up over 3 million views.
“Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator,” Sensei says in the video. “He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres… because people have realised that they prefer their black music and their black culture from a non-black face… we have artists now that are much more willing to step into black genres.” Watch the video below.
Despite collaborating with a number of African-American artists, Mars himself was born in Honolulu to a half-Puerto Rican and half-Ashkenazi Jewish father and a Filipino mother.
Many defended Sensei’s points, with one Twitter user declaring it “the perfect assessment of the current state of the music industry.”
'They want black culture from non black artists'. This is the perfect assessment of the current state of the music industry pic.twitter.com/YVsclgpvUF
— rosechocglam (@rosechocglam) March 9, 2018
However, a number of prominent black commentators came to Mars’ defence.
Marjua Estevez of Vibe wrote “in no room is Bruno Mars a white person. Given his Puerto Rican and Filipino ancestry — both of which have African roots… one could argue Bruno’s artistry pulls from intrinsic knowledge and influence.”
Stereo Williams at Billboard also noted: “Sensei’s take is ahistorical, in that she presupposes that appropriation is now more prevalent and prominent than ever. White folks making Black music is not a new phenomenon.”
Williams added: “We’ve reached a tipping point in the ‘cultural appropriation’ conversation. It’s become knee-jerk and lacks nuance.”
Mars recently called for the NFL to organise a hip-hop halftime show next year, featuring performances from the likes of Lil Jon, Outkast and Gucci Mane. Heappealed to the NFL on Twitter after it was announced that the 2019 Super Bowl will be held in Atlanta.
The city is widely considered to be the modern home of hip-hop in America and the home city of artists including Migos, Gucci Mane, and Outkast.
Posting on Twitter, Mars wrote: “@NFL you have the opportunity to celebrate incredible Hip Hop Artist from Atlanta next year”.
He added: “Outkast. T.I Gucci, lil jon, Jeezy, Jermaine Dupri just to name a few. it would be the best party Tv has ever seen!”