Capitol Records “Severs Ties” With AI Rapper FN Meka, Apologizes To The Black Community

Capitol Records “Severs Ties” With AI Rapper FN Meka, Apologizes To The Black Community

Capitol Records has “severed ties” with the recently signed AI rapper FN Meka, who came under intense scrutiny after clips of the project using the N-word went viral. Social media users also surfaced an old image from Meka’s Instagram showing the rapper in a scene of police brutality.

“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” reads Capitol’s statement. “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 association with the project.”

Earlier this month, Capitol announced that the virtual rapper and influencer would be signed to the label, describing the “AI powered robot rapper” as “the world’s first A.R. artist to sign with a major label.” The bot’s single “Florida Water” featured Gunna (who is currently in jail on RICO charges) and gaming streamer Clix. The song has now been removed from streaming services.

Hours before Capitol’s announcement, the activist organization Blackout shared a statement asking for the label to cut ties with FN Meka, noting Gunna’s involvement while facing RICO charges and calling the project “an amalgamation of gross stereotypes.” Here’s their full statement:

It has come to our attention that your company has decided to partner with Factory New on signing the artificially designed “rapper” FN Meka. While we applaud innovation in tech that connects listeners to music and enhances the experience, we find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is. It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.

This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life. For example, Gunna, a Black artist who is featured on a song with FN Meka, is currently incarcerated for rapping the same type of lyrics this robot mimics. The difference is, your artificial rapper will not be subject to federal charges for such.

For your company to approve this shows a serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone deaf leadership, this is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

We demand this partnership be terminated, a formal public apology be issued, FN Meka removed from all platforms. Furthermore, all monies spent by Capitol Records and Factory New for this project will be allocated to charitable organizations that directly support Black youth in the arts, as well as marketing budgets for Black artists signed to Capitol Records. We look forward to your response and compliance.

FN Meka was created by the “virtual” record label Factory New. Last year, the company’s co-founder Anthony Martini (of hardcore band E.Town Concrete, incidentally) told Music Business Worldwide:

We’ve developed a proprietary AI technology that analyzes certain popular songs of a specified genre and generates recommendations for the various elements of song construction: lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds, etc. We then combine these elements to create the song.

As of now, a human voice performs the vocals, but we are working towards the ability to have a computer come up with and perform its own words – and even collaborate with other computers as “co-writer.”

Following Capitol’s announcement, Martini blamed “blogs that have latched onto a clickbait headline and created this narrative,” according to NYT:

He said that FN Meka was, in fact, primarily an anonymous human rapper — “he’s a Black guy” — and “not this malicious plan of white executives. It’s literally no different from managing a human artist, except that it’s digital.” He added that the team behind FN Meka was “actually one of the most diverse teams you can get — I’m the only white person involved.”

Capitol did not pay an advance to sign the rapper, Martini said. The label confirmed that there was no money to be paid back in the deal.

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