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Label has apologised to ‘the Black community’ after signing an AI-generated rapper that used the N-word and was shown being beaten by police
A major record label has dropped an AI rapper and offered its “deepest apologies to the Black community”, after the virtual creation was criticised for perpetuating racist stereotypes by using the N-word in a song and being portrayed being beaten by a police officer.
FN Meka, an AI rapper given the appearance of a Black male cyborg, was created in 2019 by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, the cofounders of Factory New, which billed itself as a “first of its kind, next-generation music company, specialising in virtual beings.”
FN Meka’s songs are performed by a human – an anonymous Black man, according to Martini – but the music and lyrics are generated by an AI that analyses popular music.
Capitol Records announced it had signed FN Meka just 10 days ago, billing the rapper as “the world’s first AR [augmented reality] artist to sign with a major label”.
But amid growing backlash over racial stereotypes, including FN Meka’s use of the N-word in 2019 song Moonwalkin, and an Instagram post in which FN Meka was shown being beaten by a police officer in prison, Capitol Records announced on Tuesday it had “severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately”.
An AI rapper that says the n-word fabricating police brutality… literally every single thing about this is so off-key
“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 statement read. “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 has more than 500,000 monthly Spotify subscribers and more than 1bn views on its TikTok account, where Factory New sells NFTs and posts computer-generated videos of FN Meka’s lifestyle, including Bugatti jets, helicopters and a Rolls Royce custom-fit with a Hibachi grill. Its Instagram account, which has more than 220,000 followers, has been made private.
Hours before Capitol’s statement, Industry Blackout, a Black activist group fighting for equity in the music business, released a statement addressed to Capitol calling FN Meka “offensive” and “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.”
FN Meka had released one song with Capitol, titled Florida Water, with the US rapper Gunna. Gunna, real name Sergio Kitchens, is currently being held without bond in Atlanta, where he awaits trial on a felony racketeering charge. In the indictment, Kitchens’ lyrics and social media posts were cited as allegedly being “acts in furtherance of the conspiracy”. Kitchens, one of 28 codefendents in the case, denies the charge.
“This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life,” Industry Blackout wrote in their statement to Capitol. “For example, Gunna, a Black artist who is featured on a song with FN Meka, 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 for such.”
Industry Blackout demanded a public apology and for FN Meka to be removed from all platforms, and called on Capitol Records and Factory New to donate all profits generated from FN Meka to charities supporting Black youth in the arts and to Black musicians signed by Capitol.
In a 2021 interview, Martini, who is white, said that he and Le, who is Asian, were working to drop FN Meka’s human performer entirely. “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’,” he said.
Speaking to the New York Times on Tuesday, before FN Meka was dropped, Martini said he was anticipating it would happen due to “clickbait headlines”. When asked about the image of FN Meka being beaten by a police officer, Martini said: “Some of the early content, now if you take it out of context, it obviously looks worse or different than it was intended.”


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