Capitol Records drops 'virtual rapper' FN Meka after criticism of racial stereotypes and slurs

ITV News' Zahra Errami explains why AI artist FN Meka has been dropped by a major record label.

A major record label has dropped a virtual rapper after the creation was slammed for "gross" racial stereotypes and using the n-word in its lyrics.

FN Meka, an artificial intelligence (AI) artist with more than a billion views on TikTok, was created in 2019 by "virtual record label" Factory New.

In an interview with Music Business Worldwide, co-founder Anthony Martini said the label he made with designer Brandon Le, was a "next-generation music company, specialising in virtual beings".

FN Meka's songs are performed by a human, but the lyrics and music are created by AI analysis of popular songs.

Earlier this month, Capitol Records announced it had signed FN Meka, making the rapper "the world's first AR (augmented reality) artist to sign with a major label".

Following the deal, the rapper was widely criticised after clips of it using the N-word in a song went viral. People also pointed to an image shared on one of FN Meka’s Instagram account of the rapper being "brutalised" by a virtual prison guard.

"An AI rapper that says the n-word fabricating police brutality… literally every single thing about this is so off-key," one Twitter user wrote.

On Tuesday, just 11 days after the rapper was signed, Capitol Records announced it was severing ties with FN Meka.

“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” a Capitol Music Group statement said.

“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."

Hour's before Capitol's apology, Industry Blackout, a collective of black music industry workers, put out a statement calling FN Meka “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”.

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