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🔵 Welcome to FN Meka: the latest signing to Capitol who is entirely AI. Well... *almost* entirely...

The Motive Unknown Digest
Hi there -
Let’s talk about FN Meka, because from one glance at Twitter today it would appear many people - most of them hip hop fans - are doing exactly that.
If you’ve missed this story, Meka is a virtual artist, not a million miles from Lil Miquela. He’s a rapper, and “technically speaking FN Meka is voiced by a human. But everything else about him – from his lyrics to the chords and tempo underpinning his music – is based on AI” according to MBW. He’s also now signed to Capitol Records.
Cut to now and Meka’s music is out there to hear. This is where I get a little confused. The new single, Florida Water, was apparently "produced by Turbo (Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Baby) and executive produced by DJ Holiday (Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj)”. That being the case, I’m not 100% sure where the AI part comes into this from the musical perspective.
One can only assume that in this case “produced” and “exec produced” is less about directly creating the music and presumably about training a Machine Learning system on a curated set of sounds and styles. Or, y'know, this just isn’t AI.
Listening to the clips currently circulating on Twitter, it all just sounds a little odd. Quite phone-friendly, in that the quality of the music feels tinny and a little strange to my ears, but that’s AI for you.
It won’t come as a shock that a lot of the established hip hop community aren’t keen. For example:

You could write a novel about how fucked this is
Hip Hop By The Numbers
FN Meka already got 500k monthly Spotify listeners and a song with Gunna

The system is broken
The #1 thing that caught me about this was that the bot/rapper was using the N word within its rhymes. From where I’m sat, that’s a grievous wrong turn and I’m fully expecting that to blow up as a story in coming days. It deserves to, frankly.
But is this the future? I suspect like most things in the Web3 and metaverse spaces, the truth is that this is a rough draft in the grand scheme; a first step that will only improve over time.
Even then though, is this a future anyone wants? Perhaps therein lies the real issue here. Art, many would argue, should not be something a computer can “just” churn out given the right data set.
Ultimately, everything finds a market. I think people of a certain age - for whom this is all new - inevitably see this as a threat; the old “that’s just noise” equivalent, if you like. But for kids, this is not that odd, and over time, it will be more and more of a part of our landscape.
Perhaps the real question is the degree to which this can scale. It’s possible it becomes a norm to some. Equally it could just be a novelty that passes. What I suspect it will not do is threaten art made by real people. It might chew into market shares, but I don’t see this as an existential threat.
Between now and then though, there’s problems to solve - and for me, a virtual rapper dropping lines like “I don’t see n****s like we playing hockey” should be top of the list…
Have a great evening,
🎶 written whilst listening to the self-titled album from Belief, the collaboration between Boom Bip and Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint released via MU’s client Lex. An amazing album well worth your time, and it has to be said, the vinyl version is superb. Heavy vinyl, great reflective cover… well worth owning in that format.
Stories From The Music Industry:
Capitol Records just signed a virtual artist, FN Meka. He has over 10 million followers on TikTok.
Stories From The Broader World of Tech:
‘It’s a modern-day Facebook’ – how BeReal became Gen Z’s favourite app
Other Reads I've Enjoyed Lately:
What I Learned as a Teenage Hip Hop Critic for Pitchfork
The latest from Motive Unknown on Twitter:
Motive Unknown
Congratulations to Pale Waves who have landed at number 4 in the UK Album Charts! We've been working with @dirtyhit on the digital spend and strategy for their latest record ‘Unwanted’ 🖤👅☠️
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Motive Unknown
Motive Unknown @motiveunknownco

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