For the umpteenth time, Bruno Mars is being accused of cultural appropriation. An activist made the accusation, saying that the Grammy-Award winner (his Grammy-win will be mentioned again later) uses his cultural ambiguity to profit from traditionally black music.
Mars is from Honolulu, Hawaii, born to a Filipina mother and a Puerto Rican and Jewish father, and is known for blending traditionally black genres like funk, hip-hop, soul, R&B, and reggae. Although he has collaborated with many black artists such as B.o.B and Cee Lo Green and paid homage to Prince and most recently the black sketch-comedy show In Living Color, he is indeed not African-American.
For that reason, Grapevine panelist Seren Sensei Aishitemasu believes that Mars owes his success to the people "prefer black music and black culture from a non-black face." She expressed these points in a two-minute clip excerpted from the YouTube series, which explores African-American issues, that has since gone viral on its own.
If the name Seren Sensei Aishitemasu sounds foreign, it's because it's Japanese. The outspoken young lady also has a YouTube channel of her own where she goes on rants backed by her belief that "Yes, all white people are racist." That's directly from her 'description' page.
In the clip, Aishitemasu concludes that since Prince never won "Album of the Year" at the Grammys and Mars did, he only won the album because "white people love him." She even goes as far as saying that the Finesse singer is "unoriginal," calling him "a karaoke artist," "a wedding singer," and "the person you hire to do Michael Jackson and Prince covers." It should be noted that this year's Album of The Year nominees featured four men of color, one woman, and zero white men.
R&B singer Charlie Wilson, one of the black artists Mars is accused of copying, praised the musician in a Twitter message and credited him with helping to "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 mainstream radar." The singer-songwriter also cosigned Mars' originality by saying that he is "cut from the same cloth as myself...and no different from any other artist pulling inspiration from genres before him."
In a cover interview with Latina in 2017, Mars made it clear that he was aware of the influence that black-culture had on his music. He says, "Black people created it all. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland. So, in my world, black music means everything. It’s what gives America its swag." In the interview, he continues to say "How are you going to tell me that this song that I’m writing is only going to be catered to Puerto Ricans or to white people or only Asian people. How are you going to tell me that? My music is for anybody who wants to listen to it.”