The rapper behind the voice of short-lived Artificial Intelligence rapper FN Meka is speaking out.
Kyle The Hooligan, who says he was the original voice behind FN Meka is accusing Capital Records of cutting him out of a deal and call the downfall of the virtual artist, “karma.” On Tuesday afternoon, Capitol dropped FN Meka, the first robot rapper the label boasted that it signed two weeks ago. The label took the measure after news of the signing on Monday led to major backlash, particularly from the black community, which felt that the virtual rapper’s use of the n-word should be checked, especially if the person behind the Artificial Intelligent being is not black.
Capital Records issued a full apology for offending people as the music released used racist slurs. The AI, which used a human voice to record its raps, had released a new song via Capitol called “Florida Water,” featuring Atlanta rapper Gunna. The label boasted that the AI entity already had millions of fans on Tik Tok and even a larger amount of views on Spotify.
In the statement, the label said it had failed to make the appropriate checks and investigations before signing on to the project. As a result, Capital “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.”
Right after the news went viral that the AI artist secured a label deal and was dropping a song, there was an immediate backlash as many accused the label of using the AI entity to make money, so they don’t have to pay real rappers royalties.
Some also pointed out that black artists have difficulty landing a deal and label backing, especially in a black-founded and driven genre like hip hop.
A pro-black group that is focused on equity in music, Industry Blackout, also found the entire thing racist and offensive as the AI fashioned its speech and mannerisms after black artists. However, it’s unclear if a black person is behind it.
“We find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is. 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,” Industry Blackout wrote in an open letter posted to social media.
FN Meka was created by Factory New which has a listed founder, Anthony Martini, a Caucasian man. Some Twitter users were not pleased about that information as many referred to the AI as “Digital Blackface”- a white person profiting from black art where otherwise black people continue to suffer from using the same lyrics the AI uses.
Some discussed the current case of collaborators Gunna and Young Thug, who are facing life in jail if convicted on RICO charges. A lot of the evidence proffered by prosecutors comes from their song lyrics.
Martini said in a New York Times article that the AI personality is voiced by a human- “he’s a Black guy,” he said and defended the AI invention as “not this malicious plan of white executives. It’s literally no different from managing a human artist, except that it’s digital.”
He also said that the team behind FN Meka is “actually one of the most diverse teams you can get — I’m the only white person involved.”
Martini did admit, however, that the whole thing, when taken out of context, is worse than it was intended.
Kyle The Hooligan says this is their karma as he spoke out on Instagram.
“So everything going good,” Kyle said. “Next thing I know, n***as just ghosted me. Use my voice, use my sound, use the culture and literally just left me high and dry. I ain’t get a dime off of nothing, and they got record deals, all this stuff. I wasn’t involved in no meetings or none of that, which is f***ed up. So, I’m glad they a*s got canceled ‘cause that’s karma for they a*s ‘cause God don’t play with me. I’m gonna tell you that right now.”