Capitol Records walks away from AI rapper project, offers ‘deepest apologies to the Black community’
Capitol Records has announced that it is walking away from an artificial intelligence rapper project after receiving backlash for the AI model’s “gross stereotypes” of the Black community.
“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” the Capitol Music Group said in a statement on Tuesday. “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. 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.”
FN Meka, a virtual rapper powered by AI, was first created by Factory New in 2019, according to The New York Times. The virtual rapper has amassed more than 10 million followers on its TikTok profile.
Capitol Records signed FN Meka earlier this month, and the virtual rap artist’s first single “Florida Water,” a collaboration with Atlanta-based rapper Gunna and Fortnite player Clix, dropped on Aug. 12, Music Business Worldwide reported.
The public promptly criticized FN Meka’s use of a racial slur in rap lyrics and an image that circulated on social media showing the digital rapper being beaten by a police officer in prison.
In a statement, nonprofit organization Industry Blackout called the AI rapper a “direct insult to the Black community and our culture,” also mentioning that Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens and who is currently incarcerated on felony racketeering charges, is in major legal trouble for “rapping the same type of lyrics” FN Meka mimics.
“While we applaud innovation in tech that connects listeners to music and enhances the experience, we find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is. It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture,” Industry Blackout said, also asking Black artists under Capitol Records to speak out on this matter. “An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”