Fil-Am Bruno Mars wins at 2018 BET Awards

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
Fil-Am Bruno Mars wins at 2018 BET Awards

Bruno Mars with his trophies for Best R&B Album, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, for 24K Magic, and Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for "That's What I Like" at the 2018 Grammys

AP Photo, file

HOLLYWOOD — Despite being accused of “cultural appropriation” or “taking things from a culture” allegedly not of his own, American singer with Filipino roots Bruno Mars has been honored by African Americans’ annual BET Awards by naming him “Best male R&B/pop artist” this year.

Mars has also been nominated for Best Collaboration and Video of the Year for “Finesse.”

Last year, Mars opened the awards performing “Perm” with his seven-piece Hooligans squad.

Established in 2001 by Black Entertainment Television, the annual BET Awards aims to celebrate African Americans and other American minorities in the fields of sports, music, acting, and entertainment.

Last March, following Mars’s grand-slam win at the 2018 Grammys, the American singer-songwriter received criticism on social media for allegedly using traditionally and historically African-American genres like soul, funk, R&B, hip-hop and reggae, although he is not really an African-American.

Mars's mother was Filipina immigrant Bernadette San Pedro Bayot, while his father is Jewish-Puerto Rican Peter Hernandez.

"Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator. He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres," said Seren Sensei, a writer and activist who tackles African-American issues in the web series “The Grapevine.”

“What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it… 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,” Sensei has been quoted by CNN as saying further.

African American artists, nonetheless, came to Mars’s defense.

Mars, according to R&B singer Charlie Wilson, helps "bring back that classic New Jack / R&B sound to the masses when it was left for dead years ago and hard for artists to get that sound back on mainstream radar."

Wilson is among the singers Mars has been alleged of copying.

“Keep making that funky ish, @BrunoMars!!!! Do you always love," tweeted Grammy-nominated rapper Rapsody.

Meanwhile, “Black Lives Matter" activist and writer Shaun King tweeted: "I just want to be practical here. Are people saying that Bruno Mars shouldn't sing? Or that when he sings he needs to somehow whiten that s--- up and sound more like Rod Stewart… I'm dead serious. What type of music is this man ‘allowed’ to do?"

Mars, in a February 2017 interview with Latina magazine, said that his music is a tribute to the African Americans who inspired him to become an artist.

"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,” he enthused.

“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.”

As a child raised in the '90s, he said he cannot help but be influenced by R&B artists like Boyz II Men, Dr. Dre, Diddy, Aaliyah, Babyface, Whitney Houston, and TLC, to pop stars like Michael Jackson.

In 2015, to prevent ticket reselling that happened during the week of Mars’s Super Bowl halftime show, Hawaii passed the “Bruno Mars Act.”

At the Grammys 2018, Mars became the second musician to win Song and Record of the Year awards with two varying songs from the same album, “24K Magic.”

As of 2018, Ed Sheeran and Mars are reportedly the world’s only artists with two songs at the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 for at least half a year.

The complete list of winners of the 2018 BET Awards, presented Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles:

— Video of the year: Drake

— Best male R&B/pop artist: Bruno Mars

— Best female R&B/pop Artist: Beyonce

— Best male hip hop artist: Kendrick Lamar

— Best female hip hop artist: Cardi B

— Best new artist: SZA

— Album of the year: "DAMN." Kendrick Lamar

— Best group: Migos

— Best gospel/inspirational award: Lecrae featuring Tori Kelly

— Best collaboration: DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, "Wild Thoughts"

— YoungStars award: Yara Shahidi

— Viewers' choice award: Cardi B, "Bodak Yellow"

— Video director of the year: Ava DuVernay

— Best actor: Chadwick Boseman

— Best actress: Tiffany Haddish

— Best movie: "Black Panther"

— Sportswoman of the year: Serena Williams

— Sportsman of the year: LeBron James

— Humanitarian award: Naomi Wadler, Mamoudou Gassama, Justin Blackman, Shaun King, Anthony Borges and James Shaw Jr.

— Lifetime achievement award: Anita Baker

— Ultimate Icon Award: Debra Lee

— BET HER award: Mary J. Blige

— Best international act: Davido (Nigeria) — Reports from Associated Press


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