I was born in 1989 so anytime I see an accurate depiction of 90s clothing, music, or film, it always takes me back to my childhood. Few things bring me joy like nostalgic 90s moments. Bruno Mars has delivered that straight to our doorsteps with his new “Finesse” (remix) featuring the Bronx queen Cardi B. Mars’ Mystery Producers “Shampoo Press and Curl” along with “The Stereotypes” nail the 90s sound with the baseline, synths, and even the drum pattern. They also seem to sample some tracks that I can’t quite put my finger on just yet. This song places me right back into the musical atmosphere of some of the early 90s biggest R&B/Pop jams.
The track is a remix of the original which is on Bruno’s 3rd Platinum-selling album, “24K Magic”. This is another notch on his belt of smash hits.
In an era when it’s popular to create nostalgia, it’s not always easy to find someone who can do it well but Bruno and his team at Atlantic executed this with precision. Art is not just about coming up with creative and cool ideas but being able to execute those ideas well. This new single sounds like it could have been syndicated on radio stations in the 90s but also somehow stays relevant. When you make a track that would be a hit in two completely different eras then you know you have something special and timeless.
Where the creative team really shined was in the music video. Not only is it a blast from the past but it also pays homage to one of the best and most legendary sketch comedy shows of all time, “In Living Color.”
“In Living Color” was the springboard of many great comedian careers. It was the brainchild of Keenan Ivory and Damon Wayans who created, wrote, and starred in the program. People like Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx and even Jennifer Lopez owe many thanks to the original Wayans brothers for helping them kick-start their career.
The awesome thing about this show is not only were the skits funny (you should watch them on YouTube if you have never seen them) but it was also very cultured. The show embraced urban culture in everything from the music (show’s intro was created by Heavy D), to the clothes, all the way down to the content of the skits.
Bruno Mars and Cardi B embodied the aesthetic of the show fully, not just in the fashion and the dance moves, but also in accurately recreating the main stage, camera angles, intro, and ending. Anyone who was a fan of “In Living Color” would be able to tell immediately what they were recreating. This is a testament to the quality.
I also feel that Cardi was the perfect feature, not just because she’s one of the hottest female rappers in the game right now, but because she’s from the Bronx (the mecca of Hip-Hop). Her personality along with the Bronx’s historical connection to Hip-Hop embodies everything that “In Living Color” represented. People can critique Cardi’s verse (and there’s reason to do so) but I like to engage art for redemptive aspects.
God has given us a cultural mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28-31) while also ruling and subduing the earth. All humans made in God’s image do this to some extent. In our ruling and subduing, we create and cultivate culture. Hip-Hop, R&B, pop, and music, in general, is all a part of a culture in which we have created and benefit from. God has made us to create like him.
Culture is full of creative expression in fashion, sound, style, and language that becomes this matrix in which new things constantly develop and change. The theologian and prime minister of the Netherlands Abraham Kuyper once said: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’”
In culture, we can clearly see God at work, behind the scenes, endowing humanity with creativity to imitate their Creator even if they don’t realize it. This is how I see and enjoy redemptive aspects within culture. Sound, style, language, and creativity all emanates from the Creator. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating those who do art and culture well while leaving room for critique.
So while Bruno croons:
“Fellas, grab your ladies if your lady fine
Tell her she the one, she the one for life”
I can break out my Cross Colours and dance moves, singing along in true 90s fashion while recognizing that all creativity comes from God.