Update: Capitol Records has severed ties with FN Meka. In a statement, the label said:
"CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately. 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."
The decision came after Industry Blackout, an activist organization that seeks to end the exploitation of Black people in the entertainment industry, posted a statement calling for a public apology. The full statement can be found, below, along with PAPER's original report on the rapper's signing.
Move out of the way, hologram Tupac. There's a new innovation in the rap world, and it's... a robot?
On August 14, Capitol Records announced that they've signed FN Meka. The massive deal, which was announced alongside "Florida Water" featuring Gunna and gaming streamer Clix, is the first time a major label has signed an augmented reality (AR) rapper.
Despite being nothing more than a series of code, Meka has a strong backing behind him. He boasts over 220k followers on Instagram and a whopping 10.3 million on TikTok. His content ranges from sharing rare Tag Heuer watches that he can't wear (because, again, he isn't human) to a clip of a Rolling Loud Miami "performance." There's even a video of an AR version of currently-incarcerated Gunna laying down his "Florida Water" verse in the studio.
Since Meka was created in 2019, he's enjoyed immense success. Going back through his socials, he thirsts after the Samsung virtual assistant and posts photos with young fans. He sneaks up on a sleeping AR version of 6ix9ine with a frying pan and hangs out with the FaZe Clan. In an internet age where flashy, loud displays of wealth and absurdity captures the attention of the algorithm and young viewers alike, Meka has everything that top YouTube and Twitch stars such as Jake and Logan Paul or Pewdiepie have without running the risk of human error.
Just kidding, Meka is already involved in controversy!
This newfound attention made countless people flock to Meka's social media accounts to get a bigger picture of this strange story. In a resurfaced series of photos from 2019 that is still on the rapper's now-private Instagram, he was arrested for no specified reason. He posted a photo of fake "Soapreme" soap alongside a tasteless caption that references sexual assault, a selfie with an enthusiastic guard dog that he referred to as his "ONLY friend" and an insensitive depiction of Meka being brutalized by an AR prison guard.
The rest of the prison saga ended in a one-on-one brawl with 6ix9ine, a selfie as he escaped jail and footage of a high-speed car chase in a neon green Mercedes. Despite having millions of followers, the AR police didn't seem to catch Meka and forgot about him.
It is unknown who does Meka's voice, but he proves himself to be a proficient rapper with a handful of singles under his belt. However, ethical questions arise when taking into account everything from the trivialization of police brutality to the usage of the N-word. While Meka is represented as a Black man, his creator, Anthony Martini, is white.
Music executive Anthony Martini co-created FN Meka under his record label Factory New alongside partner Brandon Le. In a 2021 interview with Music Business Worldwide, Martini said:
"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. We then combine these elements to create the song. As of now, a human voice performs the vocals, but we are working towards the ability to have a computer come up with and perform its own words — and even collaborate with other computers as 'co-writers.'"
Martini was previously in legendary New Jersey hardcore band E. Town Concrete, who has their own history with racial slurs.
Regardless of the opinions on FN Meka, his existence is garnering a lot of discussion within the hip-hop community. Rappers such as The Game, Lil Mama and Krayzie Bone have discussed the implications of an AR rapper as a threat to human rappers who may be missing out on an opportunity to sign a record deal. Meanwhile "Florida Water" might be getting a remix with New York drill star Fivio Foreign. All in all, Meka is doing very well for a rapper that has no skin, blood or emotions.
Photo courtesy of Capitol Records
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