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New Jack Swing & R&B: Is Bruno Mars A Culture Vulture?

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New Jack Swing & R&B: Is Bruno Mars A Culture Vulture?

New Jack Swing, R&B and soul aren’t just forms of black music, but simply forms of  American music.

Bruno Mars, one of the most admired acts in music, is the latest to be accused of appropriating black culture. Culture appropriation is when someone uses components of a culture that isn’t their own, and not showing or telling where they got them from. Several instances however, point to the crooner, not actually being responsible…

Variance Magazine

Bruno Mars Cardi B Finesse / Credit: Bruno Mars/Instagram

Since his arrival to the music scene, Mars has included music genres such as New Jack Swing, rhythm and blues, and soul into his albums.

On many occasions, Mars, who is of Filipino and Puerto Rican decent, and real name is Peter gene Hernandez, pay tribute to his African American predecessors frequently. Sought after black musicians have came to his defense as well.

Take one of Mars most recent songs off of his latest album for example, “Finesse”. Mars sings over a New Jack Swing beat, that was frequently used by black artists in the 1990’s. In the remix video featuring rapper Cardi B, at the very end it reads “Dedicated to In Living Color”, a popular show in the 1990’s that was a platform for up and coming black artists, and actors.

Digital Spy

Back in November of 2017, Mars’ live performance at the legendary Apollo Theatre was aired, as he performed songs from his latest album, 24K Magic.

The Apollo , a TV show that Mars grew up watching with his family, was a stage where many esteemed black artists of yesteryear performed. Mars had one goal that night, to bring everyone together under one roof, no matter what you look like.

Mars is not the first artist accused, and won’t be the last. Justin Timberlake, Eminem, and Robin Thicke have all been in the spotlight for acts of appropriating black culture, with the ladder in legal disputes for taking the sample of a Marvin Gaye song without consent.

“So, if you were born in the 1970s and 1980s….dancing in your living room to New Editions “NE HeartBreak” or watching Janet’s “Rhythm Nation 1814″ videos as a kid….it’s called INFLUENCE, which has no racial barriers…,” tweeted hip-hop producer 9thwonder, which has since been deleted.

Evening Standard

Mars like many before him. makes it clear who he was influenced by. New Jack Swing hasn’t been heard or used in decades.

Charlie Wilson showed his support of Mars using the sound, tweeting a photo that reads.

 

“The sounds from the late 80’s and early 90’s hadn’t been present until Bruno and he did a damn good job bringing it back!!! Just want to join in the convo and stand up for my friend @BrunoMars!✌🏾🎤🕺🏽#callingallmylovlies #chunky #versaceonthefloor #finesse #24kmagic pic.twitter.com/v2xHF9GPB8

— Charlie Wilson (@ImCharlieWilson) March 9, 2018

If these well respected people in the music industry are supporting artists who aren’t African American like Mars and others who are carrying on the legacy of great black artists, who came before them, then why can’t everyone else?

It is especially important in today’s society that we all come together as one, no matter what race, religion or creed. Mars shouldn’t be excluded from popular black genres for the simple fact that he isn’t African American, because for everything the United States stands for, that would be hypocritical. New Jack Swing, R&B, and soul aren’t just forms of black music, but simply forms of  American music.

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