Capitol Music Group, the company that includes major record labels including Capitol and Blue Note, said Tuesday it has cut ties with the latest controversial artist: FN Meka, a virtual “rapper” powered in part by artificial intelligence, who boasts more than 10 million followers. on me tik tok.
The company had already Project raised — the first augmented reality artist to sign a major brand, he said — as “just a preview of what’s to come.” However, after mounting backlash for what skeptical observers said amounted to a digital face — including content that appeared to downplay prison and police brutality — the Capitol said it had “cut ties with Project FN Meka, and is effective immediately.”
“We offer our deepest apologies to the black community for our indifference to signing this project without asking enough questions about the fairness and creative process behind it,” the company added in a statement. “We thank those who have reached out to us with constructive comments in the past two days – your contribution has been invaluable as we reached the decision to terminate our engagement. with the project.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the activist non-profit organization known as Industry Blackout, which Formed in 2020 To pursue equity in the music business, he called for a public apology, as well as donating any money the Capitol spends on the project to charities and the budgets of black artists on the label.
Industry Blackout wrote in an open letter: “We found fault with a lack of awareness of how aggressive this caricature is.” Post on social media. “It’s a direct insult to the black community and our culture. A mixture of gross stereotypes, and appropriate behaviors drawn from black artists, complete with insults infused with words.”
FN Meka is backed by Factory New, which describes itself as “the first of its kind, next-generation music company specializing in virtual objects.” (Also on the list: crypto-rapper Lil Bitcoin.) Although FN Meka and his music — “lyrical content, chords, melody, rhythm, and sounds” — even though human is partly derived from artificial intelligence, Industry publication Music Business Worldwide I mentioned last year.
“Not to get all philosophical, but what is an ‘artist’ today?” Anthony Martini, founder of Factory New, told the publication at the time. “Think of the biggest stars in the world. How many are just ships for commercial endeavors?”
Ryan Roden, Executive Vice President of Experimental Marketing and Business Development at Capitol, project delivery This month is as living “at the intersection of music, technology and gaming culture”.
In an interview on Tuesday, Martini said he expects the deal to be canceled this week, citing “the blogs that commented on the clickbait title and created this narrative.”
He said that FN Meka was, in fact, basically an anonymous human rapper – “he’s a black guy” – and “not that’s the malicious plan of white CEOs. It’s literally no different from running a human artist, except that it’s digital.” He added that the team behind FN Meka was “actually one of the most diverse you can get – I’m the only white person involved.”
Martini said Capitol did not pay an advance to sign with the rapper. The label confirmed that there was no money to be repaid in the deal.
Martini noted that while there was “some trolling at first” in posing for a video game-style character – who swears, has tattoos on his face and sports a half-shaven head of green braids – the use of digital avatars may be available to some artists. The question was: How do we break an avatar as if it was a real artist and not a spectator? Unfortunately it turned into a spectacle anyway.”
In response to the photo that surfaced on social media, which shows FN Meka being beaten by a police officer in prison, Martini added: “Some early content, now if I take it out of context, it obviously looks worse or different than it was intended.”
The first single, Florida Water, was released via Capitol, a division of Universal Music Group, on August 12. The track is recorded as featuring professional Fortnite player Clix, along with Atlanta rapper John, who is currently held without bond in Atlanta, where he is Facing felony racketeering charge.
“This digital doll is a neglected and disrespectful atrocity for real people facing real consequences in real life,” Industry Blackout said in its statement, referring to the Gunna case.