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Capitol Records drops ‘offensive’ AI robot rapper FN Meka after outcry over racial stereotyping

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Earlier on Tuesday, the activist nonprofit known as Industry Blackout, which formed in 2020 to pursue equity in the music business, had called for a public apology, as well as the donation of any funds spent by Capitol on the project to charity and the budgets of Black artists on the label.

“We find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” Industry Blackout wrote in an open letter posted to social media. “It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”

FN Meka was backed by the company Factory New, which described itself as a “first of its kind, next-generation music company, specializing in virtual beings.” (Also on the roster: the crypto-rapper Lil Bitcoin.) Though voiced by a human, FN Meka and his music — “lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds” — was derived in part from artificial intelligence, the industry publication Music Business Worldwide reported last year.

Read also: FN Meka: World’s ‘first AI robot rapper’ signs to major label

“Not to get all philosophical, but what is an ‘artist’ today?” Anthony Martini, a Factory New founder, told the publication at the time. “Think about the biggest stars in the world. How many of them are just vessels for commercial endeavors?”

Ryan Ruden, the executive vice president of experiential marketing and business development at Capitol, plugged the project this month as living “at the intersection of music, technology and gaming culture.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Martini said he anticipated the deal’s cancellation coming this week, citing “blogs that have latched onto a clickbait headline and created this narrative.”

He said that FN Meka was, in fact, primarily an anonymous human rapper — “he’s a Black guy” — and “not this malicious plan of white executives. It’s literally no different from managing a human artist, except that it’s digital.” He added that the team behind FN Meka was “actually one of the most diverse teams you can get — I’m the only white person involved.”

Capitol did not pay an advance to sign the rapper, Martini said. The label confirmed that there was no money to be paid back in the deal.

Martini noted that while there was “some trolling initially” in rolling out the video game-style character — who curses, has face tattoos and sports a half-shaved head of green braids — the use of digital avatars could be freeing for some artists. “The question was: How do we break an avatar as if it was a real artist and not a spectacle? It unfortunately turned into a spectacle anyway.”

Responding to an image that made its way around social media, showing FN Meka being beaten by a police officer in prison, Martini added, “Some of the early content, now if you take it out of context, it obviously looks worse or different than it was intended.”

A debut single, “Florida Water,” was released via Capitol, a division of Universal Music Group, on Aug. 12. The track was credited as featuring the professional Fortnite gamer Clix, along with the Atlanta rapper Gunna, who is currently being held without bond in Atlanta, where he is facing a felony racketeering charge.

“This digital effigy is a careless abomination and disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life,” Industry Blackout said in its statement, pointing to Gunna’s case.

SOURCE: New York Times

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South African pioneer Riky Rick posthumously receives inaugural Global Visionary Award at The BET HipHop Awards 2022]

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Global Visionary Award RIKY RICK 1987 %E2%80%93 2022 1X1

Rikhado “Riky Rick” Makhado will be honoured posthumously with the prestigious title his fans have known him to hold ever since he broke into the industry: The Global Visionary Award, during the International Broadcast of the 2022 BET Hip-Hop Awards. The esteemed award recognises and honours champions of culture, including artists, DJs, and music industry professionals who have made ground-breaking efforts to expand the culture of hip-hop on the World Stage. Riky Rick is the inaugural recipient of this award.   

Hosted by Grammy®-nominated recording artist, actor, entrepreneur, and media personality Fat Joe the “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” 2022, will tape from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, GA, on Friday, September 30, and will premiere Internationally on BET Africa, DStv channel 129 on Wednesday, 05 October 2022 at 02:00 am WAT/ 03:00 am CAT and repeat at 18:30WAT/19:30 CAT.  

“The BET Global Visionary Award comes as a heart-warming opportunity to celebrate Rikhado’s life and his deep love for humanity”, said Louisa Zondo, Riky Rick’s mother. “I see the award as a recognition of the positive impact of the music Rikhado shared with us. The award also highlights how Rikhado used arts and culture as an important and effective pathway for people to truly connect with, care for and be seen by each other.” 

The South African Entrepreneur, Rapper, and Fashion Icon, Riky Rick, has been a force in the music industry since the release of “Nafukwa”, which won an MTV Africa Award for Video of the Year. Riky Rick’s dynamic and prominent voice in SA hip-hop has earned him recognition as a highly regarded creative who has left an indelible mark on the global music scene. He pioneered the independent music wave in SA and beyond, separating from his label and releasing music directly to fans online. His independent ventures achieved much success and inspired other artists to explore a similar path. He is the founder and owner of Cotton Club Records and of Cotton Fest, a platform that celebrates the world of music and fashion.  

“As Riky’s family, we are moved and honoured to receive the BET Global Visionary Award on behalf of our beloved, Riky Rick,” said Bianca Naidoo Makhado, Riky Rick’s wife. “This award honours his work and his name. I am so proud that my husband’s work is still making a positive impact within the entertainment space and that his legacy continues to inspire young creatives. This award reminds us of his love for his fans and for the culture.”  

“Riky Rick means so much to so many of us, not just South African hip-hop fans but globally beyond the mic. His impact in changing the South African hip-hop game to be more inclusive, particularly in encouraging young creatives to take control of their destiny and dare to dream bigger, endures as one of his most influential and lasting legacies. His legacy continues to inspire and together with Bianca, we hope to honour Riky by championing a new generation of black creatives while celebrating his life and what he stood for,” said Monde Twala, Senior Vice president and General Manager, Paramount Africa and Peer Lead, BET International.  

Riky Rick’s untimely passing, due to mental health struggles, is a great loss for many. This Award aims to honour his life, work, and his lasting impact while raising awareness around mental health issues and shedding light on available coping resources. Riky Rick was an innovator in many spheres of culture and the world benefited greatly from his intuitive vision.        

For more information about “BET Hip Hop Awards” including the latest news and updates, visit bet.com/hiphopawards.  

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Global publisher to release first graphic novels from South Africa’s award-winning Triggerfish Animation Studios

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North American independent book publisher Catalyst Press will publish two graphic novels from Cape Town’s world-renowned animation studio next year, its first venture into the literary sphere. (more…)

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Rihanna will headline the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show

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Must be NFL on the brain: Pop icon and entrepreneur Rihanna will perform at next year’s Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show, the NFL announced Sunday. (more…)

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2022 Global Citizen Festival Campaign Across Accra and New York Culminates In $2.4 Billion To End Extreme Poverty

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2022 Global Citizen Festival Campaign Culminates In $2.4 Billion To End Extreme Poverty

Global Citizen is proud to announce the 2022 Global Citizen Festival campaign has culminated in over $2.4 billion in commitments to end extreme poverty NOW.

The six-week campaign concluded with a nine-hour festival across two stages, beginning in Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana, presented by Harith General Partners, and ending in New York City’s Central Park, presented by Citi and Cisco.

The 2022 campaign saw 2 million actions taken by global citizens as part of Global Citizen’s mission to End Extreme Poverty NOW, more than doubling the record previously set by the international advocacy organization.

On the Global Citizen Festival: Accra stage, the governments of Ghana and South Africa announced the African Prosperity Fund, a joint initiative by the governments of Ghana and South Africa, which aims to deploy $1 billion to fund projects for economic inclusion and financial participation across the continent. The fund will focus on projects in the African Continental Free Trade Area, including infrastructure development, financial access for the participation of women and youth, education, healthcare, technology, and sustainability, all for the benefit of Africa’s 1.3 billion people.

Meanwhile, at Global Citizen Festival: NYC, U.S. members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle stood alongside world leaders, philanthropists, and trailblazers from the private sector to make announcements worthy of the 10-year history of the Global Citizen Festival. Over a video message, President Macron announced France will reallocate 30 percent of its Special Drawing Rights to the world’s poorest countries, specifically in Africa, to fight extreme poverty, pandemics, inequalities, and climate change.

The days leading into the 10th anniversary Global Citizen Festival saw major commitments from world leaders, including Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and President von der Leyen of the European Commission, who respectively committed CAD $1.209 billion and €715 million at the seventh replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. During the Festival, Prime Minister Trudeau and President von der Leyen thanked global citizens for acting.

The following commitments were pledged at the 2022 Global Citizen Festival in Accra, Ghana and New York City:

FOR GIRLS
Investments committed for the future of women and girls include:
Governments

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Glorilla Teams Up With Cardi B For Explosive “Tomorrow 2” Single

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Memphis star GloRilla calls on the one and only Cardi B for “Tomorrow 2,” which you can listen to HERE via CMG Records/Interscope Records.

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Lil Maru shares new video single “Get Me On”

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Fresh off the release of his breakthrough single “On The Block”, 18-year-old San Diego rapper Lil Maru has just shared his new single and video “Get Me On” via Simple Stupid/Geffen Records. On the new single, Maru croons about the ins and outs of his day-to-day––spitting about his neighborhood of SD, his highest aspirations, and his endless hustle. LISTEN

The song is accented by Maru’s tremolo flow over the minimalist, West Coast flavored production featuring a pair of light keys and smooth synths. The video showcases Maru surrounded by his loyal crew, flexing his custom jewelry, and adds to the personal nature of the song. Following the bubbling success of “On The Block”, Maru is continuing his homegrown momentum with his new single and video “Get Me On”.

Read Also: Audiomack’s Recent “Premiere Access” Feature Enables Artists to Reward Supporters With Early Listening

Lil Maru is a Mexican-American hip-hop artist based in San Diego, CA who busted on the scene with his 2020 single “Change Up” (20m+ Streams) and has only been capitalizing on the momentum ever since. He followed this up with a string of singles in 2021 including the viral hit “On The Block”, “Issues”, and “Nothing Into Something”. Maru kicked off 2022 with the release of his EP Been 2 Gone, featuring standout tracks like “Heartless”and “Soda Shopping” featuring former Shoreline Mafia member Fenix Flexin. Now, with the release of “Get Me On”, Maru is looking to leave his distinct mark on hip-hop and emerge as the forerunner of the new West Coast scene.

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