A virtual “robot rapper” has been dropped by a record label following criticism that it perpetuated racist stereotypes.
Just days after announcing it had signed the computer-generated FN Meka, Capitol Music Group announced it had “severed ties” with the project and apologised to the black community for its “insensitivity” and lack of research.
It comes after activist group Industry Blackout shared an open letter to the label, describing the augmented reality (AR) rapper as an “amalgamation of gross stereotypes” and a “careless abomination”.
Posting the letter on social media, the group highlighted the use of the N-word and depictions of the rapper being beaten by a police officer.
In a statement sent to Sky News, a spokesperson for Capitol said: “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.”
FN Meka currently has more than 10 million followers on TikTok and more than 570,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Its Instagram account, which has more than 220,000 followers, is currently set as private.
It is described as a “Robot Rapper not accepted by this world” in its social media bios.
Although voiced by a human, the persona and music were in part developed from artificial intelligence, according to industry reports.
In their open letter to Capitol, captioned “Have you lost your FN minds?” and posted before the project was dropped, Industry Blackout described the label as “tone deaf” over the signing and called for a formal apology.
“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,” they wrote.
“It is a direct insult to the black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, and 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.”
Sky News has contacted the company behind the project for comment.