Capitol Music Group has dropped its Virtual Rapper FN Meka after facing backlash over allegations the character reflects racially inappropriate stereotypes.
Capitol issued a notice on Tuesday indicating they were severing ties with their virtual rapper, despite the 10 million followers this artificial character had garnered on TikTok alone, according to The New York Times. Critics voiced concerns the digital character represented the equivalent of “digital blackface” and said FN Meka seemed to trivialize police brutality and incarceration.
Capital Records Drops First AI Rapper FN Meka for Saying the N Word
Just days after news broke that AI-powered virtual rapper FN Meka had signed a deal with Capitol Records, the label announced it has dropped the ’bot following backlash. #interesting https://t.co/Wxi0O5DxBD pic.twitter.com/cyKqDeuQ7b
— If it ain’t weird! (@strictsum) August 24, 2022
Among the most vocal critics of this digital character was a non-profit agency “Industry Blackout,” which formed in 2020 to advocate for equity in the music industry, according to TMZ. “We find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” Industry Blackout said on their social media outlets.
“It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics,” Industry Blackout said. Capitol issued a release stating it had “severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” in spite of having previously teased the project by boasting the success of the first augmented artist to have been signed to a major record label, according to The New York Times.
“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,” Capitol said in a statement.
“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.” Capitol said. (RELATED: Superstar Actress Apologizes For ‘Wearing Blackface.’ Her New Show Gets Pulled Back For Now)
All of this! Because FN Meka was a trash move Capital!!! https://t.co/vTsUeA5xs8
— Faye Brown (@Yallaintreadty) August 24, 2022
Earlier on Tuesday, Industry Blackout called for a public apology, as well as the donation of any funds spent by Capitol on the project to charity and the budgets of black artists on the label.
FN Meka was backed by the company Factory New, which described itself as a “first of its kind, next-generation music company, specializing in virtual beings.”