Singer Charlie Wilson and producer 9th Wonder are jumping to Bruno Mars’ defense after he was accused of cultural appropriation. Here’s why they’re totally cool with his style of music.
A major debate regarding whether or not Bruno Mars’ music is cultural appropriation was sparked on Twitter last week, and now, two prominent figures in “black” music are defending him from the critics. R&B artist, Charlie Wilson, took to Twitter to praise Bruno as a “genuine talent, pure and simple,” and went on to explain why the Grammy-winning singer is doing so much more than just trying to profit off of black culture. “Bruno, with this album, helped bring back that classic New Jack /R&B sound to the masses when it was left for dead years ago and hard for artists to get that sound back on the mainstream radar,” he wrote. “Bruno’s songs on this album are original and no different than any other arist pulling inspiration from genres before him.”
Bruno has openly admitted that he gets a lot of his inspiration from black artists, which is why their sound is evident in his music. 9th Wonder, a well-known hip-hop producer, touched on this in his defense of the “24K Magic” singer. “How do we expect our culture now to be accepted by mainstream (in which half of y’all don’t even recognize brilliance in artists UNTIL its slammed in your face by the masses, and NOT influence the masses?” he asked. “Is it Bruno Mar’s 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? This is a Sociology study on influence and exposure, not, ‘Oh, Bruno wanna just copy us.’ “
This new conversation about Bruno began when YouTuber, Sensei Aishitemasu, ranted about how he’s a cultural appropriator in a video for The Grapevine on March 8. Sensei slammed Bruno for just “completely, word-for-word” recreating other works of music, rather than doing something original. “White people love him because he’s NOT black, period,” she said. “The issue is: We want our black culture from non-black bodies. And Bruno Mars is like — bam, I’ll give it to you.”
— 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? This is a Sociology study on influence and exposure….
— 9th Wonder (@9thwonder) March 12, 2018
UPDATE: Ashley Akunna — the creator of The Grapevine show on which Sensei sparked the debate — has come forward to say that she in fact does not “believe Bruno Mars is a cultural appropriator.” She writes: “Sure, Bruno Mars was the catalyst of our conversation…However, so much nuance is left out of the conversation when you do not do the work of going to the source of the conversation and understanding the argument fully. We reduce critical conversations when we relegate people to the silos of haters and bitterness due to defensiveness.” You can read Ashley’s full letter here.