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Capitol Drops AI Rapper Following Racial Stereotyping Backlash
Christian Eede , August 24th, 2022 11:36

The major label has apologised to "the Black community" after recently signing an AI-generated rapper that used the N-word and was depicted as a victim of police brutality

Capitol Records has dropped an AI-generated rapper and extended its "deepest apologies to the Black community" after the virtual musician was criticised for upholding racist stereotypes.

FN Meka, an AI rapper that has the appearance of a Black male cyborg, was created in 2019 by Anthony Martini (who is white) and Brandon Le (who is Asian), the co-founders of Factory New, a company which described itself as a "first of its kind, next-generation music company, specialising in virtual beings." The rapper's songs are performed by a human – an anonymous Black man, according to Martini – while the music and lyrics are generated by an AI system that analyses popular music.

Capitol Records announced the signing of FN Meka just 10 days ago, when they described the rapper as "the world's first AR [augmented reality] artist to sign with a major label." That signing has since drawn some backlash, however, with people criticising the use of the N-word in the rapper's 2019 song 'Moonwalkin', as well as a 2019 Instagram post in which FN Meka was depicted being beaten by a police officer in prison.

Following the backlash, Capitol Records announced this week that it had "severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately." The major label also offered its "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."

The label's statement concluded: "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's Instagram account, which has more than 220,000 followers, has been made private since the backlash about the rapper's signing to Capitol emerged. The rapper released one song with Capitol before the label announced its decision to cut ties with the AI project: a collaboration with US rapper Gunna, called 'Florida Water'.