Bruno Mars has responded to claims that he is a “cultural thief” and has appropriated Black culture in his music and performance.
The singer-songwriter was born to a Filipina mother and a Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi Jewish father. Mars was confronted with the claims of cultural appropriation, which have provoked debate on social media for years, during an appearance on The Breakfast Club radio show.
Breakfast Club host Charlamagne Tha God said: “People love to accuse you of being a cultural thief, which I find interesting because you are a person of colour. What would you say to those people?”
Mars responded by crediting several of the Black artists who had influenced his sound and style.
“I would say, you can’t look at an interview, you can’t find an interview where I’m not talking about entertainers that’ve come before me,” he said. “The only reason why I’m here is because of James Brown, is because of Prince, Michael [Jackson], that’s the only reason I’m here.”
“I’m growing up as a kid, watching Bobby Brown, saying ‘Okay, if that’s what it takes to make it, then I’ve got to learn how to do the running man, I’ve got to learn how to do the moonwalk.’ That’s it. And this music comes from love, and if you can’t hear that, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
The “Uptown Funk” artist was asked whether he was affected by the claims.
“It comes with the gig,” he replied. “And there’s real merit to what people are saying about Black entertainers not getting their flowers, and I’m championing with that, I’m with that. I understand, but it’s just Twitter.”
Mars released his first collaborative song with Anderson .Paak earlier this week, under the joint moniker Silk Sonic.