Capitol Records has dropped AI rapper FN Meka less than two weeks after adding the computer-generated rap artist to its roster.
FN Meka, which has over 10 million followers on TikTok, has come under heavy fire for embracing black culture and mocking police brutality, with some critics calling it “digital blackface.”
“Effective immediately, CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project,” a Capitol Music Group representative said in a statement. “We deeply apologize to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing off on this project without asking enough questions about the fairness and creative process behind it. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us with constructive feedback over the last few days – your input was invaluable when we came to the decision to end our collaboration on the project.”
Capitol Records is home to artists like Coldplay, Sam Smith, Katy Perry and Halsey. It is owned by industry-leading Universal Music Group.
Meka was co-founded by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, who together founded the “virtual record label” Factory New. The company uses artificial intelligence to study popular music and create songs, and also uses augmented reality to create content for Meka’s TikTok.
“We have developed a proprietary AI technology that analyzes certain popular songs of a certain genre and generates recommendations for the different elements of song construction: lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds, etc.,” Martini told Music Business Worldwide in 2021 “We then combine those elements to create the song.”
After Capitol announced the signing of FN Meka on Aug. 12, some music fans accused the robot’s creators of stealing black culture while simultaneously poking fun at the systems that oppress blacks. A Twitter user resurfaced photo The character had posted to Instagram in 2019, which revealed he was being attacked by a virtual police officer in prison for refusing to “sniff”.
“Police brutality,” read the caption. “What should I do?!?! This guard is hitting me with his baton for not ratting on. I’m not a rat. Life in prison is so depressing… I wish I could get out so I could start making [fire] music again.”
Meka’s Instagram has since been made private, and Martini and Le have not commented on Capitol’s departure. Meka’s song “Florida Water,” featuring rappers Gunna and Clix, has since been removed from TikTok and streaming services.
“The AI rapper is the natural progression of the digital blackface I’ve been talking about for years…” according to one user wrote.
“fn meka is literally just blackface lmao, there are no nuances…”, said another.
Industry Blackout, the collective that previously urged Instagram users to post black squares following the murder of George Floyd, released a statement Tuesday calling Capitol’s decision to sign Meka “deaf.”
“This digital likeness is a carefree abomination and disrespectful to real people who are facing real consequences in real life,” the group wrote. “For example, Gunna, a black artist featured on a song with FN Meka, is currently jailed for rapping the same type of lyrics that this robot mimics. The difference is your fake rapper won’t face federal charges.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-08-23/fn-meka-ai-rapper-dropped-capitol-records AI rapper FN Meka dropped by Capitol following backlash