On August 8, Capitol Records announced rapper FN Meka’s addition to its label as a frontrunner of the movement toward merging the web3 and entertainment industries. The world’s first artificial intelligence rapper to be signed to a major label was created by Factory New, which is a music company specializing in virtual artists.
Factory New co-founder Anthony Martini said the company “developed a proprietary AI technology that analyzes certain popular songs of a specified genre and generates recommendations for the various elements of song construction: lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds etc. They then combine these elements to create the song.”
The project engineered by Martini and his partner Brandon Le, neither of whom are Black, presented a Black-presenting character rapping these tracks with generated lyrics.
The artist’s first release on Spotify, “Florida Water” collaborated with Gunna and Clix. The biggest virtual being on Tik Tok, FN Meka has amassed over 10.3 million followers and over 612,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
FN Meka had successfully captured the attention and admiration of music fans around the world. However, as the rapper continued to gain traction, his origins and social media presence began to garner scrutiny.
Attention began to center on the rapper’s use of racial slurs and monetization of Black culture. He was widely criticized for perpetuating stereotypes in appearance, style and lyrics.
In 2019, FN Meka’s Instagram account posted a photograph of the rapper virtually experiencing police brutality. The caption read: “…This Guard keeps beating me w/ his BATON because I won’t snitch. I ain’t no rat…”.
Kyle the Hooligan, the original voice behind FN Meka, recently revealed he had provided his voice and likeness without equity or pay by Factory New. In a video on Instagram, he announced he and his attorneys have began the legal process to regain compensation. He stated that Factory New had “used my voice, used my sound, used the culture and literally just left me high and dry.”
The rise and fall of FN Meka has sparked conversations surrounding the morality of AI artists in terms of vocal backing compensation, cultural appropriation and crowding the already competitive music space.