After a nearly two-year hiatus, Bruno Mars has come back onto the music scene alongside Anderson .Paak. The duo created a new band called Silk Sonic and released their first single on Friday, "Leave the Door Open." Amidst his return to music, Mars addressed cultural appropriation criticism that he has received over the years. According to E! News, those cultural appropriation claims first emerged in 2018.
On Friday, Mars and Paak took part in an interview on The Breakfast Club, during which host Chalamagne the God brought up the fact that the "24K Magic" singer has been accused of cultural appropriation in the past. He asked the musician, "People love to accuse you of being a cultural thief, which I find interesting because you are a person of color. What would you say to those people?" In response, Mars said that he has always paid tribute to entertainers who have paved the way in the industry, such as James Brown and Michael Jackson.
"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," Mars said. "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." Mars continued to say that his own style was developed after watching those icons as he grew up. He even mentioned that other artists, naturally, have been inspired by ones who came before them.
"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." Mars added, "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?" The musician went on to say that he hopes that upcoming singers will be inspired by his new band, Silk Sonic, down the line "because if they don't, then what was the point of us doing this?"