FN Meka is the first virtual rapper to be signed by a major music label. This AI capable of writing rhymes and composing instrus has just joined Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records label. Find out all you need to know about this new phenomenon…
At first glance, FN Meka looks no different from any other rapper. He drives a golden Rolls-Royce, a Tesla truck adorned with the Gucci logo, and a green Lamborghini. On TikTok, he has 10 million followers and over a billion views. In his videos, he can be seen showered with $100 bills alongside sexy women.
The only difference with other rappers is that FN Meka is not real. He’s a robot rapper, powered by artificial intelligence.
Visit texts are written by an AItrained to write rhymes like a real MC. The voice is that of a human, but FN Meka will soon be able to rap itself.
This artificial intelligence has been trained by analyzing popular songs of specific genres. Based on these songs, the technology generates suggestions for building blocks for new songs such as lyrics, chords, melodies or tempo.
Since 2019, this virtual rapper was already enjoying success with his songs ” Speed Demon “, ” Internet “or his most popular track to date: ” Moonwalking “. His screaming style is reminiscent of Teskashi69.
Now, FN Meka has entered the big league by signing with Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records label. A dream that few human rappers manage to realize…
The first virtual artist signed by a major label
Following his signing to Capitol Records in August 2022, FN Meka is now the first virtual artist signed by a major label. According to Ryan Ruden, the label’s Vice President of Experimental Marketing, this project is ” at the intersection of music, technology and video game culture “.
According to him ” a first glimpse of what’s to come “. According to him, this is a great first and a “ evolution of Capitol Records’ 80-year history of innovation “.
On August 12, 2022, FN Meka celebrated its signing with fanfare by unveiling its single ” Florida Water “produced by Turbo and DJ Holiday. These producers have previously worked with world-famous rappers such as Travis Scott, Young Thung and Lil Baby.
Le rapper Gunna lends his voiceand video game streamer Cody “Clix” Conrod appears in the clip. Suffice to say, FN Meka is not surrounded by anonymous people.
“Florida Water” Ft. Gunna & Meka out now on all platforms 🙂 pic.twitter.com/B0tttvAYka
– Clix (@Clix) August 12, 2022
In this new song, FN Meka strings together rhymes such as ” Tesla, Gucci, Cybertruck / I wreck that shit, don’t give a fuck “ (to be translated as ” I break this *****, nothing to ****** “). These verses, rich in modern poetry, were generated by an AI, even though they are rapped by a real human being.
This song is royalty-freeand can be used free of charge by creators on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube without the risk of demonetization or removal by the label.
In fact, Capitol has a partnership with startup Slip.streamwhich offers a library of over 100,000 royalty-free songs and sound effects produced by real artists.
This signing by Capitol Records has great symbolic importance. It is now clear that AI and virtual artists will play a major role in the music industry and the art world…
The origins of FN Meka
Behind FN Meka lies a whole team of real people. This AI rapper was created by Factory New: a label featuring only virtual artists.
The company is co-founded by Anthony Martini, who previously founded Commission Records and owns experience in traditional artist development. He has worked with rappers such as Tyga, Lil Dicky and Madeintyo.
In his opinion, FN Meka’s concept is no different from that of older artists. like DJ Marshmello, Gorillaz or even 50 Cent. According to him ” looking at any great human artist, the more fantastic you are, the more you embody a character. Any great artist has to sell some kind of story. It’s just the next level. There have been precedents in the past, even pseudo-virtual characters. Look at Gorillaz. Look at a guy like Marshmello: he’s not real either. He could also be a digital being and it wouldn’t make any difference to fans of his music. We’re trying to blur the boundaries even further and take everyone into the future. “.
Co-founder and CEO of digital distribution platform Vydia, Roy LaManna, agrees with Martini. As another example, he cites controversial rapper Tekashi69 to demonstrate how the most famous artists are simply caricatures of themselves.
As he explains, ” I think this rapper is the perfect example of what we’re talking about here. He’s kind of like a meme. His music, mainly in the beginning, was co-written or written by his producer. There’s Daniel Hernandez, the real guy, and then there’s the Tekashi character who’s almost like a cartoon character, drawing people into his narrative. “.
Thus, according to Roy LaManna, ” the question is whether the character Tekashi69 by Daniel Hernandez could exist in a virtual spaceand I think Anthony and his team are proving that the answer is yes. “.
Originally, FN Meka is not designed to be a rapper. Its creator Brandon Le comes from a video game background, and created virtual objects and appearances for avatars. He designed FN Meka to help him sell his creations.
Early in his musical career, FN Meka released other demos. However, these were removed to maintain quality. His team is keen to ensure that the content is of the highest quality, so that the robot rapper can be taken seriously. She wants him to be able to compete with any artist, human or virtual.
Are artists just characters?
In the eyes of Roy LaManna, the human element is perhaps less important than the narrative and the content of an artist. He cites Britney Spears as an example: ” she’s a personality. She wasn’t necessarily the best singer, and a lot of her music was written by other people. Then it went into a narrative, she dated Justin Timberlake, it was a whole and people really got into it“.
He wonders ” how much of this depends on the human factor? I think it’s a lot less than people realize, and it’s being tested today because the technology has reached a certain point where it’s a viable option. I think that we’re just seeing the beginnings of this thing “.
Similarly, Martini adds that most modern artists have an image created by a label or a management team”. at least at the beginning, when you’re trying to develop a certain narrative and build a brand “.
Thus, he believes that ” we do the same thing, except we are not limited to the human worldor to the human form. We’re going to take that old idea of creating a brand and creating a narrative behind the artists and take it to the next level. “.
FN Meka on TikTok
FN Meka lives mainly on TikTok, where his videos have been viewed over a billion times. Although he also has an Instagram account, he only has 206,000 followers, and users of this social network don’t interact with him as much.
His fans come to see her personalized accessory designssuch as a PS5 paired with a Starbucks coffee machine, a Louis Vuitton stroller, an Apple Air Pods shotgun or a Gucci Batmobile.
The aim of Factory New and Vydia is to use FN Meka as a a form of test marketing to assess public interest in this type of character. The aim is to verify whether these virtual artists can be profitable in the music industry or even in the NFT field.
According to LaManna on TikTok, ” FN Meka has the ability to make market research on song virality releasing small song excerpts, asking people when it should relax them, which songs, and what should be put in as components, whether it’s an NFT, or any other kind of design that can go along to help propel it “.
The team behind FN Meka then analyzes the data to determine what works. This virtual artist is therefore the fruit of a symbiosis between Big Data, AI and digital communication.
Welcome to the age of the virtual influencer
Major record companies are increasingly interested in virtual artists. Previously, Universal Music Group invested in this field via its 10:22PM label dedicated to Web3 with the NFT group KingShip made up of monkeys from the Bored Ape Yacht Club. In addition, UMG has a partnership with the company Genies which specializes in the creation of avatars for artists and digital accessories.
Warner Records has also formed a partnership with K-Pop giant SM Entertainment and its “Metaverse Girl Group”. made up of four human and four virtual members. Meanwhile, Warner’s Asian label Whet Records has signed a deal with virtual artist Ha Jiang.
Japan’s Sony Music have launched virtual versions of the of their artists on the Roblox platform. Other industry leaders include Space Bomb and its virtual artists Xen, SUBI and AntiFragile.
Beyond that, rapper FN Meka is part of a more general trend of virtual influencers. This can be compared with Miguela Sousa: an Instagram influencer computer-generated, partnered with brands like MINI and featured on the cover of several magazines. She has also taken part in Fashion Week, and ventured into the music business too.
Martini is convinced that FN Meka has the potential to do much more with music. In his opinion, he could become an ambassador for various companies. He explains that he has been approached by ” a ton of brands, including several prestigious luxury fashion brands “.
In 2021, FN Meka has sold an NFT drawing for $6500 on the SuperRare platform. According to Martini, ” there’s a lot of interest in this area for the kind of things we do, but for Meka it’s really about finding things that fit naturally with its fan base, its brand image “.
The real hope of FN Meka’s creators is that this rapping AI won’t be not just for a few years, but forever the way “ the character of Batman transcends Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and everyone else “…
What do you think of virtual artists? Should we leave art to humans, or can we let AI create music as long as it manages to move us and make us dance? Give your opinion on this new phenomenon in the comments!