There was a loud uproar this week after it was announced that Capitol Records had signed the first ever AI rapper, FN Meka, to a deal. Matters got worse when it was revealed that Meka, in an attempt to come off as realistic, would use racial slurs, be depicted with face tattoos and colorful hair, and was shown in scenes of police brutality. Twitter did its thing by expressing outrage in droves and the AI rapper was quickly dropped. But who, or what, really is FN Meka?
Entertainment Weekly reported on Tuesday (August 23) that FN Meka was created by Factory New, a “media company focused solely on virtual and digital talent,” according to co-founder Anthony Martini. His business partner Brandon Le designed the AI rapper by “using thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media.”
Meka’s artistic process consisted of “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.,” which his team then combined to make songs to be voiced by rapper Kyle the Hooligan, who did not take too kindly to his lack of compensation after the situation blew up.
The issue, as pointed out by activists, is that said creative team did not have any Black members according to Variety. So, it was an AI rapper voiced by a Black rapper but created to be Black through the use of algorithms instead of actual Black creators. This does not mean something like this won’t happen again, but rather Capitol has become the sacrificial lamb to show future creators what not to do.