Backlash Causes Capitol Records to Nix Virtual Artificial Intelligence Rapper, FN Meka

Backlash Causes Capitol Records to Nix Virtual Artificial Intelligence Rapper, FN Meka

The world saw its first virtual artificial intelligence rapper this week—named FN Meka—and then Capitol Records, which had introduced the character to the audience, quickly shut it down just days later, following backlash.

News broke several days ago that FN Meka had “signed” a contract with Capitol, but on Tuesday (August 23), a representative for the record label told the outlet XXL that the company had ditched the robot.

Read the statement to the magazine, “CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effectively immediately. We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing this project without asking enough questions about equity and the creative process behind it. We thank those who have reached out to us with constructive feedback in the past couple of days—your input was invaluable as we came to the decision to end our associate with the project.”

Much of the formal opposition to the “rapper” came from a “unified body of Black people in the industry committed to changing the community” known as @industryblkout, which published striking criticism against Capitol Records and FN Meka, saying it was an “abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life.” (See full statement below.)

According to reports, FN Meka was created by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, of Factory New, a virtual record label that “signed” FN Meka to a deal. The robot’s voice is based on a real human’s voice, but everything about it, including his rap verses, is based on AI tech, say its creators.

Meka caricatures a “racially ambiguous Soundcloud rapper, complete with colored dreads and face tats,” XXL reports. The robot rapper already released a new single, “Florida Water,” with the rapper Gunna.

One of the main criticisms, to start at least, was that the robot rapper uses the N-word in its lyrics. On the 2019 track “Moonwalkin’,” the AI machine says, Moonwalkin’ with a shawty in the lobby/Feel like Hank Hill when I raise the Bobby (Bobby)/I don’t see no n—as like we playin’ hockey (Hockey). Check out the song below.

Wrote Twitter user @sleekseesghosts on Monday, “FN Meka is an AI-generated rapper, it already has a record deal with a major label and 500k monthly Spotify listeners, also uses the n-word in its song. Shut that thing down.”

Other issues included criticism that the robot perpetuates stereotypes on social media. An Instagram post from Meka’s account shows Meka being beaten up by a police officer in a jail cell because it “won’t snitch.”

To date, FM Meka has more than 10 million followers on TikTok and more than 135 million likes.

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