For someone who’s received as many James Brown comparisons as Bruno Mars has, it makes sense that he’d be very aware of the impact that black artists have had on the American music scene, but in a recent interview with Latina, the “Uptown Funk” star took it a step further, breaking down why American music is black music.
“When you say ‘black music,’” Mars begins, “understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Motown. Black people created it all. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland [Africa]. So, in my world, black music means everything. It’s what gives America its swag.”
You can’t really argue with him there. He goes further, explaining how vital to his life black music was growing up. “I’m a child raised in the ‘90s. Pop music was heavily rooted in R&B from Whitney, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, Aaliyah, TLC, Babyface, New Edition, Michael, and so much more. As kids this is what was playing on MTV and the radio. This is what we were dancing to at school functions and BBQs. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these artists who inspired me. They have brought me so much joy and created the soundtrack to my life filled with memories that I’ll never forget.”
What a way to start Black History Month.
Mars doesn’t just speak on what American music really is, but also about the political and social climate we’re living in right now. “I hate that we’re even having a conversation about injustice in America,” he says. “That we are having a conversation about this in 2017; the same conversation that’s been had decades and decades ago.” He also clarified his love for the Puerto Rican side of his family, and clarified any rumors about him purposefully switching up his name to hide it.
“I never once said I changed my last name to hide the fact that I’m Puerto Rican. Why would I fucking say that? Who are you fooling? And why would anyone say that? That’s so insulting to me, to my family. That’s ridiculous. My last name is Hernandez. My father’s name is Pedrito Hernandez, and he’s a Puerto Rican pimp. There’s no denying that. My dad nicknamed me Bruno since I was 2 years old. The real story is: I was going to go by ‘Bruno,’ one name. Mars just kind of came joking around because that sounds bigger than life. That was it, simple as that. I see people that don’t know what I am, and it’s so weird that it gets them upset.”