Capitol Records Drops Virtual AI Rapper FN Meka Following Backlash
UPDATE (Aug. 23)
Industry Blackout has released a statement to XXL in the wake of virtual AI rapper FN Meka being dropped from Capitol Records. The organization sent an open letter to the label earlier today, calling for the artist and label to terminate its partnership.
"We feel it it is a great victory that Capitol Records terminated their contract with FN Meka however, the fact this happened to begin with shows how much work is still ahead of us," the statement starts. "We’re glad the people amplified our voices to be heard so quickly on a Black issue, and that our action led to results. This should set a precedent that shows how Black and Brown voices can unify behind issues and get things done.
"There was a great opportunity to do something innovative with hip hop and tech. Tech should be used to amplify the culture And there’s still a chance to do so—the right way. At the end of the day, we’ve been about the people since inception and continue to focus on our community. At every turn we will stand up when needed."
ORIGINAL STORY (Aug. 23):
Grand opening. Grand closing. Just days after news broke that AI-powered virtual rapper FN Meka had signed a deal with Capitol Records, the label announced it has dropped the ’bot following backlash.
On Tuesday (Aug. 23), a rep for Capitol Records released a statement to XXL confirming its decision to part ways with the "rapper."
"CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effectively immediately," the statement reads. "We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing this project without asking enough question 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."
The opposition to FN Meka apparently received a strong push from @industryblkout, a "unified body of Black people in the industry committed to changing the community" on Twitter, who published a hard stance statement against Capitol Records and the Meka project on Tuesday calling it an "abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life."
XXL has reached out to Industry Blackout for comment.
The announcement arrives after backlash the label received from recently signing the virtual rapper to a recording contract. FN Meka is the creation of Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, cofounders of Factory New, a virtual record label who were the first to ink the virtual rhymer to a deal. FN Meka's voice is based off a real human, but everything else about the rapper including his rhymes are based off artificial intelligence technology, according to its creators. In appearance, Meka looks like to a caricature of a racially ambiguous Soundcloud rapper, complete with colored dreads and face tats. Meka even has a new single with Gunna titled "Florida Water."
However, the Meka "project" has received backlash. For one, Meka uses the N-word in lyrics. On the 2019 track "Moonwalkin'," he spits the lines, "Moonwalkin’ with a shawty in the lobby/Feel like Hank Hill when I raise the Bobby (Bobby)/I don’t see no niggas like we playin’ hockey (Hockey)."
"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," a Twitter user posted Monday (Aug. 22). "Shut that thing down."
Another issue came after its creators were called out for perpetuating stereotypes on social media. One Instagram post on Meka's official Instagram account shows the rapper being beaten up by a police officer in a jail cell because he "won't snitch." This didn't sit well with people either.
"An AI rapper that says the n-word fabricating police brutality… literally every single thing about this is so off-key," a Twitter user recently opined.
FN Meka has over 10 million followers on TikTok and over 135 million likes.