Capitol Music Group officially announced they have "severed ties" with an artificial intelligence rapper over controversy for the use of racist stereotypes.
In a groundbreaking move earlier this month, the major record label signed their first virtual artist, FN Meka, the “AI-powered robot rapper.”
The FN Meka project was co-created by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le of Factory New–a self-proclaimed first virtual record label specializing in creating artificially designed music artists.
But according to a report by the New York Times, the AI rapper was dropped by the label after activist groups and observers saw FN Meka as a racist caricature of Black artists.
A spokesperson for Capitol Music Group told the Hollywood Reporter:
“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately."
"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.”
One of the groups that took issue over the signing of the virtual artist was Industry Blackout, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the rights of Black community members in sports and entertainment.
They posted an open letter calling out Capitol Records for being oblivious to “how offensive this caricature is."
The organization also stated:
“[FN Meka] 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."
When Capitol Records announced the collaboration with Factory New, they additionally announced FN Meka was releasing a single, "Florida Water,” with the artist Gunna and Fortnite gamer Cody “Clix” Conrad.
Industry Blackout referred to the real-life rapper Gunna–whose last two albums shot to number one on the charts–to make a point about the damaging effect of their reckless portrayal of FN Meka and the message it sends.
"The digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life, for example, Gunna, a Black artist who is featured on a song with FN Meka, is currently incarcerated for rapping the same type of lyrics this robot mimics"
"The difference is, your artificial rapper will not be subject to federal charges for such."
The organization further stated the label showed a "serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone-deaf leadership" and it was "unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
Industry Blackout concluded their letter by demanding Capitol Records issue a formal apology, to have FN Meka removed from all platforms and the monies spent by the record label and Factory New be allocated to charitable organizations benefitting Black youth in the arts and towards marketing for Black artists signed to Capitol Records.
As of Tuesday, FN Meka's artist's page no longer appeared on the Capitol Records website.
The label's spokesperson added the "Florida Water" single–which was released on the Capitol Records label on August 12, 2022–has been removed from all streaming platforms.
Around the time of the signing, Factory New co-creator Anthony Martini explained in an interview with Music Business Worldwide FN Meka was the result of gathering "thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media.”
Martini said the advantages of signing on a virtual artist were the fact they are never sick, are always on time for concerts and they never ages–allowing for fans to maintain a long connection with them.