Bruno Mars is addressing cultural appropriation claims.
The Grammy winner is opening up about the hot topic and facing it head-on.
During an interview on Breakfast Club with his Silk Sonic partner, Anderson .Paak., Bruno spoke about people accusing him of cultural appropriation after he sparked an online debate about "his racial ambiguity to cross genres" in music back in 2018. The musician's mom is Filipino and his dad is Puerto Rican and Jewish.
"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 told the "24K Magic" singer on March 5, adding, "What would you say to those people?"
"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," Bruno began. "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."
"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 moonwalk,'" he continued. "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."
The singer explained that, like most artists, his music has been inspired by the greats.
As the "Uptown Funk" singer described, "It's not a secret. We wear the inspiration on our sleeves. What is the point if us, as musicians, can't learn from the guys that've come before us? What did they do?"
"I hope that later on, down the road, there's going to be a band that's taking what we did and flipping that, and freaking that, and putting their own spin on it," Bruno explained of his and Anderson's new group, Silk Sonic, "because if they don't, then what was the point of us doing this?"
Bruno admitted that he questioned himself when the accusations first arose in 2018. "At the time, when it kind of popped off on the internet, I was looking in the mirror, like, what am I not seeing," he shared. "Do I have this pass that I don't know about? Where can I get this pass? Because I could use some for me and my friends."
Charlamagne asked if the cultural appropriation accusations ever upset him, to which he replied, "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," he added, "but it's just Twitter."
Around this time in 2018, writer and activist Seren Sensei criticized Bruno on social media, which then sparked a debate about the musician.
"Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator. He is not Black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres," Serena said in a video for The Grapevine.
"What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it," she shared. "He does not create it, he does not improve upon it, he does not make it better. He's a karaoke singer, he's a wedding singer, he's the person you hire to do Michael Jackson and Prince covers. Yet Bruno Mars has an Album of the Year Grammy and Prince never won an Album of the Year Grammy."
While some agreed with Serena's take, others came to his defense.
"Y'all are just trying to find reasons to hate Bruno Mars..," one Twitter user wrote at the time, "if he's not your cup of tea then he's not your cup of tea but to say that he isn't talented and appropriates black culture to validate your argument is wack.. just say you don't like him and move on."
You can watch Bruno and Anderson's full interview on the Breakfast Club above.