Stevie Wonder Calls BS On Bruno Mars Being A Culture Vulture

    Coming off his Grammy for winning album of the year, the Bruno Mars has been criticized for stealing the sound of New Jack Swing producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and cultural appropriation. TMZ asked music icon, Stevie Wonder, whether Bruno Mars was guilty of being a culture vulture. 

    Wonder who has influenced the last 50 years of American music doesnt agree. In fact, the blind legend defends Mars against accusations of culture theft by calling it “bullsh*t.”

    Blavity on Twitter

    Aren’t we all allowed to be inspired by great musicians? Music legend Stevie Wonder thinks it’s ‘bullsh*t’ to think Bruno Mars is a cultural appropriator https://t.co/jrEQFFg1gy

    Heres the thing, God created music for all of us to enjoy, Wonder told TMZ. So we cannot limit ourselves by peoples fears and insecurities.

    Bruno Mars has eaten WELL off Black music, but hes not black and that has wrinkled the feathers of some folks recently as a debate has emerged about cultural appropriation and whether or not Mars is guilty of it. 

    Following a viral clip from the hour-long show The Grapevine, Mars became the epicenter of a new debate over non-black artists taking traditional black music and profiting from it. 

    THE GRAPEVINE | IS BRUNO MARS A CULTURAL APPROPRIATOR? S3EP18 (1/2)

    Bruno Mars is a music superstar! On this episode, the panelists debate whether or not Bruno is a cultural appropriator. As a non-black person of color, does Bruno get a pass for creating and profiting off “black music”? This episode gets intense; you’ve been warned.

    This is not a new phenomenon. Popular music has thrived off cultural appropriation such as Elvis Presley and The Beatles. It doesn’t make it right, but quite honestly, white artists thriving off of black music and introducing it to an entirely new audience has led to a point where Rap and R&B are the most lucrative and popular musical genres in the world. 

    Twitter erupted as the clip featuring activist and writer Seren Sensei, one of many who claimed that Mars was a cultural appropriator, spread like wildfire last week. Some folk see what Mars is doing as theft of a culture to profit. 

    The Grapevine’s creator, Ashley Akunna, shared her thoughts about the clip that went viral several days ago and the drama over the video discussion. “Her POV represents a perspective many black people understand and agree with,” she wrote for Blavity. “It is a justified anger that many feel about the genre of music they created being ripped from their hands and hearts because they will never be accepted by the mainstream, never get the accolades and never receive the recognition they deserve. And that is what the conversation is really about.”

    Its kind of weird to see an artist such as Stevie Wonder who has undoubtedly been a victim of such culture appropriation defend Mars, but then again Wonder did his marching back in the 60s and at this point, he’s done fighting those battles. 

    REVOLT TV on Twitter

    @BrunoMars is NOT a culture vulture who stole Black music. https://t.co/2w4RagoOKY

    As Akunna stated in her Blavity piece: 

    “The Grapevine is a platform for young people to speak truthfully from their lens. We pride ourselves on creating a space where everyone has a seat at the table. Sitting next to someone with a different viewpoint often times helps you question staunch held beliefs and prejudices you may not know you carry…  Its in this spirit of passion and openness that this show was created, and that is what we brought to the Bruno Mars conversation.”

    So Wonder’s views will tend to differ from the younger generation’s. He came up in a time when people of color were treated as subhumans in this country and his answer is motivated by the unifying effects he has seen music have over the years. Wonder feels that the power and galvanizing effects of song outweigh any discussion about cultural appropriation. 

    Wonder believes that Mars affinity for soul music and the traditionally black sound is a compliment to black artists. 

    Okayplayer on Twitter

    Stevie Wonder says calling @BrunoMars a “cultural appropriator” is bullish*t. https://t.co/lW96pPPSrB

    Hes a great talent, so all the other stuff is just bullsh*t, Wonder said. He was inspired by great musicians and great artists and songwriters. So its cool.

    The problem remains, however, that Blacks aren’t the ones getting the lion’s share of profits from this music.  

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.