Just a few weeks after it was announced that Capitol Records had signed an artificial intelligence rapper named FN Meka, the label dropped the project after hip-hop fans called out the decision online, according to longtime New York Times music reporter Joe Coscarelli. In a statement, Capitol Music Group wrote, “CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately.”
The statement came after some critics called out the racist overtones implied by the virtual rapper, who had been depicted in scenes of police brutality on Instagram, and used racial slurs in its lyrics, which were written by an artificial intelligence program but performed by a real human. Capitol addressed these concerns in its statement as well. “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,” it reads. “We thank those who have reached out to us with constructive feedback in the past few days — your input was invaluable as we came to the decision to end our association with the project.”
breaking: Capitol Records “has severed ties” with the A.I. rapper FN Meka, “effective immediately,” following days of backlash over the caricature
— Joe Coscarelli (@joecoscarelli) August 23, 2022
FN Meka, which has 10.3 million followers on TikTok, has suspended its Instagram page as a result of the controversy; however, the team behind the project, “virtual” record label Factory New, has yet to respond. FN Meka is just one of a growing cadre of virtual characters being used to pitch both real and digital goods — such as NFTs — that includes the CGI influencers like Lil Miquela, Shudu, and Blawko. The intersection of AI and hip-hop has so far created a number of curios, like the Travis Scott bot and an Eminem AI deepfake song, which have prompted debate on the value of “real” musicians and art and their place in an increasingly digital landscape. Maybe they should have let Run The Jewels make the soundtrack to Blader Runner 2049, after all, because at this rate, we’ll all be living in a world resembling movies like Blade Runner, Ghost In The Shell, and The Matrix in no time.