Entertainment: Are the Attacks on Bruno Mars Divisive?

NiLP Guest Commentary
Are Attacks on Brumo Mars
Dividing Communities of Color?
by Howard Jordan
The NiLP Report (March 15, 2018)
Has Meshell Ndegeocello chosen to sow the seeds of divisiveness with attacks on Puerto Rican-Filipino Bruno Mars (see article below). Maybe we forgot that Hip Hop started in the South Bronx and included both African Americans and Puerto Ricans. The next thing you will be telling us that Cardi B is also appropriating music. I suggest some read the book New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone by Raquel Rivera that documents the often «invisibilized» contributions of Puerto Ricans to Hip Hop. Or perhaps the role that Bruno Mars boricua father, atimbalero, had in teaching him music. It is this type of divisiveness that generates heat and not light. Maybe we should also ignore the contributions of Mongo Santamaria and or Chano Pozo who worked with Dizzy Gillespie?
Food for thought: Does an artist of color who does not identify as Black like Mars does but recognizes his Puerto Rican roots engaging in cultural appropriation when he/she records R&B or honors a black genre of music? Are those who are attacking Mars engaging in Puerto Rican/Latino bashing and creating unnecessary divisions in communities of color? Does Mars, as clearly person of color, deserve different treatment that the silence of many on Eminem and Justin Timberlake because they are white? Should Mars be blamed for the exclusion of many African American artists or are we just hating the player but not the game? Familia. please share your thoughts? Let me know at
Meshell Ndegeocello Calls Bruno Mars
‘Karaoke,’ Prompting Cultural Appropriation Debate
By Jessica Bennett
Ebony (March 9, 2018)
While promoting her upcoming album Ventriloquism, an album of covers, Meshell Ndegeocello got all the way real about her thoughts on pop superstar Bruno Mars, calling his music «karaoke,» for mimicking the sounds of classic Black artists.
«What he’s doing is karaoke, basically. With ‘Finesse,’ in particular, I think he was simply copying Bell Biv DeVoe. I think he was copying Babyface. And definitely there were some elements of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis back when they worked with Human League,» the bassist told Billboard. «I feel like there’s just all these threads running through there, but not in a genuine way.»
Ndegeocello’s words inspired a debate from The Grapevine, where panelist Seren Sensai went even further.
«He is not black at all and he plays up his racial ambiguity to be able to cross genres and to go into different places.»
«What Bruno Mars does is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely word for word recreates it – he does not change it, he does not improve upon it. He does not make it better. He’s a karaoke singer.»
Social media has been debating the subject ever since, with plenty of fans supporting the «That’s What I Like,» singer while others agreed with Ndegeocello’s assessment. Check out a few reactions below.
Jiggy Gillespie
Of all the non-black artists who explicitly draw influence from black culture, Bruno Mars is easily the most respectful. Constantly pays reverence to his influences. Appropriation and expropriation are rampant but not sure why we’re still doing this with him tbh …
3:06 AM – Mar 9, 2018
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Some of you fake woke people need to know the difference between appropriation and appreciation and leave bruno mars alone
12:48 PM – Mar 9, 2018
413 people are talking about this
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So Bruno Mars, is being held accountable for «cultural appropriation», but he constantly pays homage and appreciates every artist who has ever influenced him. The word appropriation is being taken out of context so bad. It’s not funny.
11:25 AM – Mar 9, 2018
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8 Mar
this is why i hate bruno mars @seren_sensei says it
Chukwuma 🇳🇬
100% agree. He’s not an intently malicious guy, he supports and works with other Black creators, but his music + entire aesthetic are the FARTHEST thing from original or unique or innovative or award worthy to me.
It’s Barmitzvah/Quinceañera music backed by a capitalist machine
11:06 PM – Mar 8, 2018
358 people are talking about this
Howard Jordan is the longtime host of The Jordan Journal on WBAI-99.5FM, whichich aris Fridays from 3-5pm. He is also Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Hostos Community College and Unit Coordinator for the Public Policy and Law Unit, where he teaches Criminal Justice, Paralegal Studies, and Public Administration. He can be reached

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