Silk Sonic: Appropriation or Appreciation in the Work of Bruno Mars?

When Rick Rubin signed the Beastie Boys to Def Jam and Russell Simmons booked them to open to for both Public Enemy and Madonna in the late ’80s they took a risk by putting a white rap group before two very different audiences — one comfortable with black nationalist rhetoric, the other in thrall to a female pop idol. Through those very different experiences, the Beasties found their own audience, one that was largely white like Madonna’s but musically way more adventurous and open to the kind of sonic experimentation practiced by PE’s…