The internet has long been a place of foolishness, f***ery, and flagrantly offensive fare for our daily consumption and this particular story certainly qualifies for all of the aforementioned adjectives.
The music industry is down bad. CDs have been reduced to gimmick novelty, vinyl records are now anachronistic representations of a time before wifi, and digital streams just don’t pay the bills like physical sales. Despite some of the questionable profiteering practices of the past (and present), we do understand the need to be profitable as a business. Some of the most impactful music in our lives was brought to us by a corporate entity and in order for that entity to continue, they need to find where dem dollas at.
That said, this is some bull$#!t.
A “virtual rapper” named FN Meka has been “signed” by Capitol Records presumably as some sort of experiment to see if they can sell a virtual being as a viable artist. Fair enough. Get your money but don’t sully the culture or play yourself by trying to play us in the process. One issue that people are taking particular issue with is FN Meka’s use of the n-word. To our knowledge, no race has been publicly assigned to the digital avatar and appears to be overtly racially ambiguous. Also, this…rapper iRobot was created by a white man named Anthony Martini! Martini spoke to Music Business Worldwide via Now Hip Hop News about his…intent
“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.,” he explained last year. “We then combine these elements to create the song.”
At the time, Martini noted that “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.’”
Then there’s stuff like this…
In a world where real Black and marginalized people are being abused by police, FN Meka and his co-conspirator creators are doing augmented oppression cosplay. This sounds like the worst money-making plan ever. So, this “guy” says ni**a and gets beaten by police and that’s supposed to make Black folks rock with him? That makes him relatable? That’s what white tech geeks and major record labels think we want?
It’s one thing for human beings to put on these stereotypes with their own agency but this is an artificial being that can be controlled in every aspect. This “robot” could be the paragon of talent, style, and respect for people and culture but instead, they gave us…this.