Bruno Mars is asking everyone to do their homework this Black History Month, inviting his fans and critics alike to dive deep into music's rich history and study the countless Black musicians who helped pave the way for a wide variety of the sounds we've come to know, love and experiment with today.
During a new interview with Latina, the pop singer explains why he feels the phrases "American music" and "Black music" are interchangeable, going on to discuss why, to him, "Black music means everything."
"When you say ‘Black music,’" Mars said, kicking off his conversation with Latina, "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."
From there, the conversation shifted into how Mars was influenced and inspired by Black music as a young child and how he was eager to learn as much as he could about the various musicians who caught his interest from a young age.
"I’m a child raised in the ‘90s," he continued. "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."
Throughout the course of the interview, Mars also discussed the trying time America is going through, saying he, too, can't believe we're still protesting and dealing with issues we've been discussing and fighting over for decades.
"I hate that we’re even having a conversation about injustice in America," Mars stated. "That we are having a conversation about this in 2017; the same conversation that’s been had decades and decades ago."
The singer also addresses an ongoing rumor that has been following him around for years, with some assuming that he changed his last name to Mars due to not being proud of his heritage.
"I never once said I changed my last name to hide the fact that I’m Puerto Rican," he said during the interview. "Why would I f**king 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."
Take a look at Latina's in-depth profile on the singer in full here.
(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)