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Music label Capitol Records recently announced that they’ve stepped back from their association with FN Meka, a rapper created completely by artificial intelligence, after receiving backlash from activists for its ties with the artist.
On Tuesday, Capitol Records announced in a statement that they’ve “severed all ties” with FN Meka and dropped the AR rapper as an artist on their label. The new announcement came just two weeks after the label first announced that they’ll be releasing a single by FN Meka featuring artist Gunna and Cody “Clix” Conrad, a gaming streamer. Since then, the single has been removed from all streaming platforms and the press release, along with the artist record page for FN Meka, have also been taken down.
“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,” said a spokesperson for Capitol Records in a statement per NBC News. “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 association with the project.”
Since the record company first announced it would partner with FN Meka, there was public outcry about the stereotypes in the rapper’s design. On Tuesday, Industry Blackout, a nonprofit activist organization, released a public letter against the partnership, criticizing Capitol Records for supporting the appropriative movements and slurs in the character’s songs. The group also called for the money directed towards funding for FN Meka’s existence to be used on supporting young Black artists.
“This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life,” wrote the group in their public post. “For your company to approve this shows a serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone deaf leadership.”
Before signing with Capitol Records, the artificially intelligent rapper was created by the cofounders of Factory New, a self-proclaimed music label that’s focused on mixing tech with art.
In making FN Meka, music industry veteran Anthony Martini and video game designer Brandon Le, a non-Black creative duo, took the first step in beginning their plan of creating a series of virtual musicians with human voices and AI-generated music and lyrics, according to an interview with Music Business Worldwide last year. With his debut, FN Meka became an instant success, amassing over 10 million followers on Tik Tok.
Upon Capitol Records’ decision to drop FN Meka, Martini spoke out in favor of his creation in conversation with the New York Times, claiming that the team behind FN Meka were”actually one of the most diverse teams you can get.”
Since then, Martini announced that he also cut ties with the project surrounding FN Meka.