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Meshell Ndegeocello Calls Bruno Mars ‘Karaoke,’ Prompting Cultural Appropriation Debate

While promoting her upcoming album Ventriloquism, an album of covers, Meshell Ndegeocello got all the way real about her thoughts on pop superstar Bruno Mars, calling his music “karaoke,” for mimicking the sounds of classic Black artists.

“What he’s doing is karaoke, basically. With ‘Finesse,’ in particular, I think he was simply copying Bell Biv DeVoe. I think he was copying Babyface. And definitely there were some elements of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis back when they worked with Human League,” the bassist told Billboard. “I feel like there’s just all these threads running through there, but not in a genuine way.”

Ndegeocello’s words inspired a debate from The Grapevine, where panelist Seren Sensai went even further.

“He is not black at all and he plays up his racial ambiguity to be able to cross genres and to go into different places.”

“What Bruno Mars does is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely word for word recreates it – he does not change it, he does not improve upon it. He does not make it better. He’s a karaoke singer.”

Social media has been debating the subject ever since, with plenty of fans supporting the “That’s What I Like,” singer while others agreed with Ndegeocello’s assessment. Check out a few reactions below.


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