Pop megastar Bruno Mars has received the backing of several high-profile black celebrities after he was accused of culturally appropriating black music and profiting from it.
The debate started after a clip was posted on The Grapevine, a panel-style web series that covers African-American issues.
“Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator,” said YouTuber and activist Seren Sensei. “He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres.”
“What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it,” Sensei continued. “He does not create it, he does not improve upon it, he does not make it better.
“He’s a karaoke singer, he’s a wedding singer, he’s the person you hire to do Michael Jackson and Prince covers. Yet Bruno Mars has an Album of the Year Grammy and Prince never won an Album of the Year Grammy,” she said.
The claims sparked fierce debate on Twitter, with many backing Sensei’s claims that Mars is guilty of cultural appropriation.
However, several black celebrities came to the defense of eleven-time Grammy-winner, who is of Puerto Rican and Filipino descent.
“Bruno Mars is a genuine talent pure and simple,” wrote veteran R&B singer Charlie Wilson in a long Twitter post defending Mars.
— Charlie Wilson (@ImCharlieWilson) March 9, 2018
“So is it Bruno Mars fault that…he was influenced by BabyFace, Teddy Riley, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis…around the same time from a hip-hop side I was influenced by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and The Beatminerz?” wrote the music producer 9th Wonder in another lengthy rant in Mars’s defense.
“Keep making that funky ish, @BrunoMars!!!!,” added the rapper Rapsody.
The 32-year-old singer is best known for hits such as Just the Way You Are, Grenade, and The Lazy Song. In 2011 he was named as one TIME magazine’s most 100 influential people in the world.