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Virtual rapper FN Meka dropped from Capitol Records

FN Meka is an AI rapper that was signed to Capitol Records two weeks ago. After racist lyrics and depictions of police brutality were discovered the bot was quickly dropped. Are computer-generated artists set to become an industry staple?

You may remember we wrote about AI voice technology that can mimic famous artists such as Eminem, Nirvana, and Kanye West early last year.

As deep fake robotics continue to make strides into the mainstream we’re slowly seeing new digital art, NFTs, crypto, and automated creative assets pop up in all sorts of industries. One of the most affected is the music industry.

The latest deep fake-esque technology making headlines is the artificial rapper alias ‘FN Meka’, an avatar that only exists digitally but acts and operates like a genuine human artist.

FN Meka describes itself as the ‘world’s biggest AR rapper’ that ‘rides on the ambiguity of the blurred lines between humans and computers’. The character’s profile and image is entirely computer generated and the lyrical content of each song is supposedly orchestrated by an algorithm.

All good so far, right?

Capitol Records signed FN Meka just two weeks ago like any other, human act. That decision was quickly reversed, however, after it was discovered that the ‘rapper’ had created racist lyrics and perpetuated stereotypes of police brutality against the Black community.

In a statement, Capitol Records said it offered its ‘deepest apologies’ and admitted that it did not undergo the due research before organising the signing.

At the time of writing, FN Meka has only released one song under Capitol Records with real-life artist Gunna called ‘Florida Water’. The AI rapper has found significant success on TikTok, generating over one billion combined views in viral dance and song videos.

FN Meka isn’t the first example of this type of tech. Imitating other artists using AI and robots has been on the rise for several years. A good example of just how convincing it can be is the ‘Travis Bott’ created by technology agency Space150. Check out this song – released in early 2020 – that sounds eerily close to a genuine Travis track.

The Instagram account for FN Meka has been made private since Capitol Records dropped it from its label.

Mere hours before the decision was made, a Black activist group called Industry Blackout released a statement urging for action to be taken. It described FN Meka’s appropriation of genuine social struggle from real artists as ‘offensive’ and a ‘direct insult’ to Black communities and culture. It should be noted that FN Meka’s creators are white.

‘Your artificial rapper will not be subject to federal charges’, they said, with regard to human artists currently facing prison time for their lyrics.

So it seems that – at least for now – FN Meka has been put on hold as far as industry backing goes. But this won’t be the last of AI artistry. More deep fakes, metaverse creators, and impersonations are sure to come.

It’s more a question of when, not if.

 

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