The Bruno Mars cultural appropriation debate has been taking place over the last several years with critics accusing the singer of using his racial ambiguity to cross into genres that are historically Black. The Grammy-winning artist addressed the claims during a recent Breakfast Club interview alongside his Silk Sonic partner, Anderson .Paak.
“People love to accuse you of being a cultural thief, which I find interesting because you are a person of color,” host Charlamagne the God said to Bruno (21:50). “What would you say to those people?”
Bruno explained that he has always given credit to the funk, R&B, and pop artists who came before him and insisted there was nothing but love behind his material.
“I would say: You can’t look at an interview, you can’t find an interview where I’m not talking about the entertainers that’ve come before me. And the only reason why I’m here is because of James Brown, is because of Prince, Michael [Jackson]—that’s the only reason why I’m here,” Bruno said. “I’m growing up as a kid, watching Bobby Brown [and] saying, ‘OK, 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 moon walk.’ 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.”
He went on to say that he wears his inspiration on his sleeve and hopes future artists will also take cues from his work.
“What is the point if us, as musicians, can’t learn from the guys that’ve come before us? What did they do?” he said, before Charlamagne asked if the criticism made him upset. “… It comes with the gig. 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.”
The sit-down took place just hours after Bruno and .Paak released “Leave the Door Open”—the first track from their newly formed band Silk Sonic.
You can check out the full interview above.
Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.
Follow Complex on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok