The Big Q&A: Bruno Mars Talks Pop Ascension, Damian Marley Collabo, His Song For Nicki Minaj

Bruno Mars didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. The 23-year-old Hawaii-born singer-songwriter who got his stage name from wrestler Bruno Sammartino has been singing since age 2 (on stage with his dad’s band, the Lovenotes) and on his songwriting grind since age 17. All the apprenticing paid off. Bruno’s “Just The Way You Are” sits at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not to mention, he’s built a rapid buzz thanks to his charming hooks on some pretty big pop songs—B.o.B.’s chart-topper “Nothing On You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire”—plus a co-writing credit for Cee-Lo’s viral smash, “Fuck You.”

Everything is on the upswing for Bruno. (Almost everything. He was officially charged on Saturday with cocaine possession after being arrested in Los Angeles). With his debut album, Doowops & Hooligans, dropping today (Oct. 5), the singer chats with VIBE on his way to a radio interview in Long Island about his rise to the top, the difficulty pinning down his sound, the song he wish he produced and the one he’s got for Nicki Minaj. Clover Hope (Twitter: @VIBE_Clove)

VIBE: How did you celebrate having the No. 1 song in the country with Just “The Way You Are”?

Bruno Mars: Stayed in my hotel room and ordered a movie [laughs]. Doesn’t it sound exciting?  

What movie was it?

I think it was Get Him To The Greek. Of course, I made a couple phone calls to Momma and to everybody at home—everything that had to deal with the song—to congratulate them. You kinda never know what to expect. We just write songs and cross our fingers. And No. 1 is so hard, because you gotta think, I’m up against Eminem and Rihanna, and these are guys that have been doing it for years—monsters in the game—and little ol’ Bruno Mars just climbed his way up there.

What’s been the toughest part about making your first album?

Not over-thinking it. A lot of times when I work with other artists, it turns into a jam session, and those normally work out the best because you’re just going off pure feeling. It’s easy to be like, “Today, I’m gonna write a song that’s gonna change the world,” and it becomes shit and that was the wackest song you ever wrote. It’s really just going in the studio with an open, clear mind.

What is the wackest song you ever wrote?

I wrote a song called “Bedroom Bandit.” I don’t know what I was on. I was in the studio, and it wasn’t for me. It was for a hip-hop artist, and you know… By the title alone, you can tell it was pretty corny.

Did the success of “Nothin’ On You” serve as a jumping off point for you to work with other artists, or did you already have those connections?

I’ve produced for artists like K’Naan and Brandy—a bunch of acts. But I guess “Nothin’ On You” was the real hit. That was the first time I think people heard my voice. And that’s kinda our sound. Sonically, that kinda established our sound as the Smeezingtons [He and his production partner Phil Lawrence].

You definitely have a very unique voice.

Yeah? There’s no Alvin & The Chipmunks [sound]? Well, good. [Laughs]

Would you consider your music emo?

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Dr. Dre Released From Hospital, Will Receive 24-Hour Home Care

Dr. Dre was released from L.A. Cedars Sinai Medical Center on Friday (Jan. 15), nearly two weeks after he suffered a reported brain aneurysm. Ice T confirmed the news tweeting, “Just FaceTimed with @drdre. He just made it home. Safe and looking good.”

The 55-year-old music mogul will remain under 24-hour care for the next few weeks as medical professionals continue to monitor his progress. Doctors are still unclear on what caused the aneurysm.

Dre’s hospital release comes days after new details were revealed in his divorce from estranged wife, Nicole Young. According to court documents publicized this week, Nicole accuses Dre, birth name Andre Young, of putting a gun to her head in 2000 and 2001. She also details other alleged abuse incidents in 1995 (before they were married) and in 2016, when he allegedly punched her in the face and kicked down her door.

The Grammy winner has denied Nicole’s abuse claims.

Nicole and Dre tied the knot in 1996. The pair share two adult children, Truice and Truly. Nicole filed for divorce last summer.

In addition to demanding that Dre cover her legal fees, Nicole wants the court to take the abuse allegations into account when “awarding support and fees.” Dre has already agreed to pay $500,000 of Nicole’s legal bills and $2 million in temporary spousal support.

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Cardi B Lands Leading Role In Comedy ‘Assisted Living’

Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

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Wendy Williams Reveals She Was Date Raped By ‘80s R&B Singer

Wendy Williams revealed that she was date raped by  ‘80s R&B singer, Sherrick, early in her radio career. The talk show host shared the story with reporters while promoting her Lifetime biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

“He mesmerized me with his twinkling eyes,” she recalled. “He flipped the interview around to where he was interviewing me — I was just gaga over this man and he asked me to go to an album release party with him that night.

“Before the party, I was date raped by him,” said Williams.

Sherrick, born Lamotte Smith, was a member of the group Kagny, whose song is featured on The Last Dragon soundtrack. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1987 and scored a marginal hit with the single “Just Call” off his debut self-titled album. Sherrick struggled with sobriety but declared himself “drug-free” before dying of unknown causes in 1999.

Williams says that she was raped in Sherrick’s Washington D.C. hotel room and it, unfortunately, wasn’t her first time being sexually assaulted. The New Jersey native had been date raped in college. “Those types of things happen to girls all the time and they’ve been happening a lot, to a lot of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and their great-great-grandmothers too.”

From the sounds of it, Sherrick's widow doesn't exactly believe Williams' story. She not only questioned Williams' account but wondered why she waited so long to go public, and why she didn't call police at the time of the incident.

“As I will never minimize or dismiss the horrid actions of sexual assault, I am saddened that Ms. Williams feels the need to publicly make these allegations when the man she is accusing is no longer on this earth to defend himself,” Lynne Conner Smith said in a statement to Page Six.  “Our family does not know Ms. Williams and are not aware of any relationship or encounter they may have had.”

The sexual assault will be chronicled in the film, as well as other details from Williams' life -- like her rise to talk show fame, her battle with drug addiction, and marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

Wendy Williams: The Movie premieres on Lifetime on Jan. 30.

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