Capitol Records ‘severs ties’ with IA rapper FN Meka, apologizes after being criticized for ‘crass stereotyping’

On August 14, Capitol Records announced that it had signed FN Meka, a digital rapper and TikTok influencer described by the label as “the first AR artist in the world to sign with a major label.” A press release by FN publicist Meka in 2021 described Meka as an “AI-powered robot rapper.” Meka’s first single on the label was “Florida Water”, which featured Gunna and gaming streamer Clix. As of today, FN Meka is no longer on a major label; Capitol announced that it had “cut ties” with the rapper, The New York TimesJoe Coscarelli reports.

“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” the label noted in a statement. “We sincerely apologize to the black community for our insensitivity to sign off on this project without asking enough questions about fairness and the creative process behind it. We thank those who have provided us with constructive feedback over the past two days – your input has been invaluable as we have made the decision to end our association with the project.

Just hours before Capitol’s announcement, the activist group Industry Blackout released a statement calling on the label to cut ties with FN Meka. He specifically noted Gunna’s involvement in this project while incarcerated on RICO charges; the indictment specifically cited Lyrics by Gunna and Young Thug. The statement reads as follows:

“It has come to our attention that your company has decided to partner with Factory New to sign artificially engineered ‘rapper’ FN Meka. As we applaud innovation in technology that connects listeners to music and enhances experience, we find fault in the lack of awareness of how offensive this cartoon is. It is a direct insult to the black community and our culture. An amalgamation of crude stereotyping, appropriation ways that derive of black artists, with insults infused into the lyrics.

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

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

We demand that this partnership be terminated, that an official public apology be issued, that FN Meka be removed from all platforms. Additionally, all funds spent by Capitol Records and Factory New on this project will be allocated to charities that directly support black youth in the arts, as well as marketing budgets for black artists signed with Capitol Records. We look forward to your response and compliance.

The project was criticized after clips went viral of the project using the N-word in a song; people also pointed to an image shared on one of Meka’s accounts of the rapper being brutalized by police.

Anthony Martini, co-founder of Factory New said in 2021 that FN Meka was voiced by a human, but his lyrics and song structures were from the AI. “It was created using thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media,” Martini said. He continued:

“The old talent search model is inefficient and unreliable. It requires spending time browsing the internet, going to shows, going to meetings, spending resources looking for the magic combination of qualities that could result in a superstar act. Even with all the money labels spend on finding talent, the success rate is a pitiful 1%. Now we can literally create bespoke artists using tried and tested elements, greatly increasing the chances of success. Even though we can achieve a 2% success rate, we have doubled the industry standard. »

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