January 29, 2023

Ever since digital rapper and TikTok influencer FN Meka was removed from Capitol Records’ roster, more details about the project have started to come to light. Anthony Martini, who co-founded the Meka-backing company Factory New alongside Brandon Le, released a statement today (August 25) announcing that he’s exiting Factory New and walking away from the FN Meka project. 

In the statement (which is available in full below), Martini clarified that he is not the creator of Meka but joined the team early in 2020 following the release of some of Meka’s early singles. “It’s become apparent that I should have done more diligence before joining,” he said. “I take responsibility for diving into a project without comprehensively examining its history.” He also referenced the allegations shared recently by Houston rapper Kyle the Hooligan.

Kyle claims that he is the original voice of Meka. In a video posted to his official Instagram account and a subsequent interview with Vice, the rapper alleged that Le enlisted him to voice the character, promised him “equity into the company, percentages,” and then “ghosted” him prior to Meka’s signing with Capitol. He added that the creators “used my voice, used my sound, used the culture, and literally just left me high-and-dry. I didn’t get a dime off of nothing, and they got record deals.”

Martini addressed Kyle in his statement today. “In the past few days, I’ve learned of Kyle the Hooligan’s experience with Meka which is deeply at odds with my core values,” he wrote. “I believe that artists must always be at the center of the creative process and must be compensated fairly.” Martini noted in a follow-up email to Pitchfork that while he was unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding Kyle being brought into the project initially, “I reached out to Kyle when I heard about it and he explained the story which sounded plausible.” Kyle the Hooligan’s representatives declined to comment on Martini’s statement.

Kyle told Pitchfork that he was the writer behind “Moonwalkin’” and other Meka songs that he rapped on, which stands in contrast with Martini’s claim in a 2021 interview that Meka’s lyrics were AI-generated. Martini walked back that interview in today’s statement. “Those quotes were from a 2021 interview and were meant to create intrigue and provide cover for songs at the time which weren’t ready for scrutiny. FN Meka’s vocals have always been written and performed by humans, which in this case, have been Black voices—to be clear.”

Meka, described by Capitol upon signing on August 12 as “the world’s first A.R. artist to sign with a major label,” was dropped following criticism that the rapper’s appearance and music “is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture,” as activist group Industry Blackout wrote in a statement addressing Capitol. They added that Meka is “an amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.” Capitol Records severed ties with FN Meka less than two weeks after signing the AI rapper. “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,” the label noted in a statement.

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