The debate around whether Bruno Mars’ music is cultural appropriation has been going on for over a week, and the support for the singer-songwriter from his musical peers and icons have kept mounting. New jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley and producer 9th Wonder have both defended Mars against the claims, and now, R&B legend Stevie Wonder has voiced his own support to TMZ.
Writer and Youtuber Seren Sensei sparked the debate by asserting that Mars, as a non-black performer, is appropriating black music for his own gain while equally talented black artists are being ignored. Stevie Wonder doesn’t agree with that perspective and says he’s a fan of Mars’ music. “God created music for everyone to enjoy, so we cannot limit ourselves by people’s fears and insecurities. He’s a great talent,” Wonder explained when asked how he feels about the debate. “That other stuff is just bull****.”
An argument many have levied in favor of Mars is that he’s always acknowledged the explicitly black roots of the music he’s inspired by, while many other artists accused of the same things feign ignorance about it. Last year, he was quoted as saying that all American music stems from black cultural production. “When you say ‘black music,’ understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Motown. Black people created it all. So, in my world, black music means everything,” he said.
For Wonder, Mars was simply paying homage to the funk and R&B legends that came before him. “He was inspired by great musicians and great artists, so that’s good,” he said. When the cameraman asked him if that gives Mars “a pass”, Wonder responded, “It’s not about a pass, God created music for everybody.” As one of music’s most beloved voices, Wonder’s endorsement is an important one to have behind you.