A rapper powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is facing a backlash over the use of racial slurs in his songs, but has still been signed by Capitol Records.
Capitol Records has previously collaborated with the likes of the Beatles, Beastie Boyes, Megadeth and Radiohead.
Ryan Ruden, executive at Capitol Music Group, said the deal “meets at the intersection of music, technology and gaming culture”.
He described the partnership with FN Meka as an “evolution of Capitol Records’ 80-year history of innovation”.
Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, creators of the AI rapper, first signed him to their virtual label Factory New, XXL reported.
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Martini previously told Music Business Worldwide that usual A&R is a thing of the past and has become “inefficient and unreliable”.
Talking last year Martini said: “We’ve developed a proprietary AI technology that analyses certain popular songs of a specified genre and generates recommendations for the various elements of song construction: lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds, etc.
“We then combine these elements to create the song.”
Right now, the songs are performed by a human voice, but Martini claims they are “working towards the ability to have a computer come up with and perform its own words”.
The reaction to FN Meka has been mixed and some have taken to Twitter to voice their concern about the new AI artist.
One major criticism is the AI rapper’s use of the N-word – which many have called out as wrong due to its creators being white.
“This is so messed up on all kinds of levels,” said one disgruntled Twitter user.
A second wrote. “[Dude] done invented digital black face.”
“It’s really no different than label execs who sponsor/promote the content that’s put out into the mainstream,” defended another.
This isn’t the first time
The AI rapper is the latest part of a trend taking music and artists into the virtual space.
Last year, a team of computer scientists at Rutgers University used an AI to complete Beethoven’s famously unfinished last symphony.
The scientists used the last remaining fragments of his sketches to train an artificial intelligence to mimic Beethoven’s style.
Ahmed Elgammal, professor at Rutgers University, told The Conversation: “There are those who will say that the arts should be off-limits from AI, and that AI has no business trying to replicate the human creative process.
“Yet when it comes to the arts, I see AI not as a replacement, but as a tool – one that opens doors for artists to express themselves in new ways.”
The news about the FN Meka backlash comes as the music industry is struggling to reinvent itself. After two long years of Covid-19, artists have had a hard time earning an income from touring.
Many artists and labels are now turning to the metaverse. Video games like Fortnite and Mine Craft are increasingly hosting live concerts from real artists on their digital platforms.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.