Bruno Mars Talks Black Music And Its Influence On Him, Losing His Mother, His Puerto Rican Roots & More With ‘Latina’ Mag!

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My man!

Bruno Mars is suave as ever on the latest issue of Latina magazine! Check out what the 31-year-old superstar shared with the publication below:

On where he gets his aesthetic from: “My whole sense of rhythm is because my dad [the late Pedro Hernandez] was teaching me bongos as a kid. He’s an old-school working musician, so that’s where the pinky rings come from, the patent-leather shoes, the suits, and the pompadour. It all stems from watching my father. I remember at the time, me and my sisters would be a little embarrassed when he would take us to school in his big-ass Cadillac. No one had Cadillacs in Hawaii. But my dad would show up in some boat-looking Caddy wearing some silky shit, and we’d run out into the car as soon as possible. And here I am wearing the swap-meet gold, driving Cadillacs.”

 

On the country’s current social climate and unrest: “I hate that we’re even having a conversation about injustice in America. That we are having a conversation about this in 2017; the same conversation that’s been had decades and decades ago.”

 

On not being easily categorized his entire life:  “There are a lot of people who have this mixed background that are in this gray zone. A lot of people think, ‘This is awesome. You’re in this gray zone, so you can pass for whatever the hell you want.’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s actually the exact opposite. What we’re trying to do is educate people to know what that feels like so they ’ll never make someone feel like that ever again. Which is a hard thing to do. Because no one can see what we see and no one can grow up with what we grew up with. I hope people of color can look at me, and they know that everything they’re going through, I went through. I promise you.”

 

On critics who claim he’s ashamed of his Latin roots: “I’d love to clear that up in Latina magazine. 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. It’s an oxymoron—the music business; like the art business. You’re making a business out of these songs that I’m writing. And how are you going to tell me that this song that I’m writing is only going to be catered to Puerto Ricans or to white people or only Asian people. How are you going to tell me that? My music is for anybody who wants to listen to it.”

 

On how black music has influenced him: “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. 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. I’m a child raised in the ‘90s. Pop music was heavily rooted in R&B from Whitney [Houston], Diddy, Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, Aaliyah, TLC, Babyface, New Edition, Michael [Jackson], 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. Most importantly, they were the superstars that set the bar for me and showed me what it takes to sing a song that can get the whole world dancing, or give a performance that people will talk about forever. Watching them made me feel like I had to be as great as they were in order to even stand a chance in this music business. You gotta sing as if Jodeci is performing after you and dance as if Bobby Brown is coming up next.”

 

On losing him mom, Bernadette San Pedro Bayot, in 2013 to a brain aneurysm: “You just gotta know that she’s with me everywhere I go. It’s some- thing that you can’t imagine—the pain and the things that you keep going back to: ‘I wish I would’ve done this or said this.’ You just have to see life differently. It shows you the real importance of life. Nothing else matters in this world but family and your loved ones….My life has changed. She’s more than my music. If I could trade music to have her back, I would. I always hear her say, ‘Keep going and keep doing it.’”

Images: John Russo for Latina

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