Capitol Records dumped a popular TikTok “virtual rapper” it had just signed after the AI program’s use of the N-word in its songs sparked outrage from activists who called the act a “direct insult to the black community.”
The virtual rapper, a black avatar with green dreadlocks called FN Meka, is voiced by a human but the songs were written by using artificial intelligence to analyze popular music, according to its creators. Capitol Records announced last week that it had signed the rapper — who had 10 million followers — hyping the virtual character as “the world’s first A.R. artist to sign with a major label.”
However, social media users and activists roundly labeled the project as racist over FN Meka’s use of slurs like the N-word. Its Instagram account also included a picture of police beating the animated rapper in jail.
“We find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” music non-profit Industry Blackout wrote on Tuesday. “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.”
A comical “diss track” that circulated on Twitter this week attacked FN Mesa’s use of the N-word.
“We cannot let robots say n—-a in any form,” the diss track goes. “If we let robots say n—-a, that’s how robotic racism’s born.”
Following the backlash, Capitol Records announced Tuesday that it had “severed ties” with FN Meka and wiped its music from streaming platforms.
“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,” the company said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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 first Capitol Records release was a song with Gunna, an Atlanta rapper who’s currently in jail alongside his label-mate Young Thug as the pair await trial on racketeering charges.
Industry Blackout pointed to Gunna’s arrest in its statement on FN Meka.
“This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life,” the group said. “For example, Gunna… 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.”
Capitol Records did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.