‘Virtual artist’ FN Meka has been dropped by Capitol Records less than two weeks after the label announced his signing.
The move follows a backlash revolving around stereotyping and appropriation and a strongly worded statement from the activist group Industry Blackout.
Capitol Records confirmed yesterday (August 23): “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 statement from Industry Blackout, also issued Tuesday, shortly before Capitol’s own announcement, read: “It has come to our attention that your company has decided to partner with Factory New on signing the artificially designed ‘rapper’ FN Meka.
“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. 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.
“This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life. 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.”
The Industry Blackout statement continued: “For your company to approve this shows a serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone deaf leadership, this is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“We demand this partnership be terminated, a formal public apology be issued, FN Meka removed from all platforms. Furthermore, all monies spent by Capitol Records and Factory New for this project will be allocated to charitable organizations that directly support Black youth in the arts, as well as marketing budgets for Black artists signed to Capitol Records. We look forward to your response and compliance.”
Capitol took iust two hours from the release of the statement to confirm that its commercial relationship with FN Meka had been severed.
FN Meka was created by ‘virtual record label’ Factory New and is based on thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media. He has over 10 million followers on TikTok – but, as of today, no major record company.
Speaking to the New York Times on Tuesday, Factory New co-founder Anthony Martini said he had been anticipating the cancellation of FN Meka’s deal with Capitol Music Group, due to what he called “blogs that have latched onto a clickbait headline and created this narrative”.
Martini argued that FN Meka was “not this malicious plan of white executives” and that the team behind the digital artist was “actually one of the most diverse teams you can get — I’m the only white person involved.”
The NYT confirmed that Capitol had not paid an advance to ‘sign’ FN Meka.
FN Meka’s flagship project in partnership with Capitol, the single Florida Water – a collaboration with chart-topper Gunna and professional Fortnite player Clix – has reportedly been pulled from streaming services.Music Business Worldwide