Virtual rapper FN Meka is likely performing the blues after Capitol Records “severed ties” with the TikTok star following backlash over its use of the N-word.
In a statement Tuesday to Urban Hollywood 411, Capitol Music Group said it ended its relationship with the performer.
“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” the 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. 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.”
While FN Meka may not be a household name, Capitol Records said in a press release earlier this month that the “artist, influencer” is “flexing” on TikTok with 10 million followers. “He is the #1 virtual being on the platform,” the label said.
But the augmented reality — or “AR” — performer’s deal was short lived, considering Capitol Records announced the agreement in an Aug. 11 press release, saying it was releasing the rapper’s single, “Florida Water,” with Gunna and gaming streamer Cody “Clix” Conrad. The single was produced by Turbo (Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Baby) and executive produced by mixtape legend DJ Holiday.
“FN Meka has signed to Capitol Records, becoming the world’s first A.R. artist to sign with a major label,” the statement said. “FN Meka blurs the line between humans and computers. With his over-the-top flexing and extravagant sense of style, he has rapidly amassed billions of impressions across the internet.”
Just as soon as the agreement was announced, it faced backlash. Activists started burning up social media saying the light-skinned robot with green dreadlocks was a stereotypical caricature of Black artists.
The activist group Industry Blackout, described as Black industry professionals committed to changing the community, blasted the record deal in an open letter posted on Twitter Tuesday.
— Industry Blackout #IndustryBlackout (@industryblkout) August 23, 2022
“While we applaud innovation in tech that connects listeners to music and enhances the experience, we find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” the group said in a statement. “It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture.”
The activist group demanded the artificial rapper be “terminated.”
“For your company to approve this shows a serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone deaf leadership,” the group said. “We demand this partnership be terminated, a formal public apology be issued, FN Meka removed from all platforms.”
Revolt reported FN Meka “threw the N-word around like it’s nobody’s business.”
The website said the racially ambiguous robot was created by a white man named Anthony Martini.
“We’ve 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.,” Martini said in an interview last year. “We then combine these elements to create the song.”