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Capitol Music Group on Tuesday said it had “severed ties” with the A.I. rapper FN Meka after facing pushback from activist groups and observers that the virtual rapper was a stereotypical caricature of Black artists.
“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately,” a Capitol Music Group spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
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Earlier this month, Capitol Records announced it had signed FN Meka and was releasing a single, “Florida Water,” with the artist Gunna and the gaming streamer Cody “Clix” Conrad. The signing marked Capitol Records’ first major deal with a virtual artist, which was co-created by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le, who are behind the company Factory New, which specializes in creating virtual music artists.
But in an open letter shared earlier on Tuesday, the activist group Industry Blackout — which represents a group of Black industry professionals — described the FN Meka project as being a “direct insult to the Black community and our culture” by being an “amalgamation of gross stereotypes [and] appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”
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The group called on Capitol Records to cut ties with the FN Meka project, issue a public apology and redirect all money spent by Capitol Records and Factory New on FN Meka toward organizations supporting Black youth in the arts and toward marketing Black artists signed with Capitol Records.
As of Tuesday afternoon, FN Meka’s artist page on the Capitol Records website — as well as the initial press release announcing the virtual rapper’s signing — have been taken down. A CMG spokesperson also confirmed to THR that the “Florida Water” single, which was released on the Capitol Records label, has been removed from all streaming platforms.
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