Can a robot rapper be accused of cultural appropriation?

The curious case of FN Meka raises questions about art, technology and culture

Young people feel increasingly at ease consuming culture via digital avatars like FN Meka. PHOTO: CAPITOL RECORDS
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The story of FN Meka - a fictitious character billed as the first musical artist partly powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to be signed by a major record label - might seem like a bizarre one-off.

In August, Capitol Records dropped FN Meka, whose look, outlaw persona and suggestive lyrics were inspired by real-life music stars like Travis Scott, 6ix9ine and Lil Pump, amid criticism that the project trafficked in stereotypes. But to seasoned observers of technology in pop music and the debate over cultural appropriation, the rise and fall of this so-called robot rapper, whose songs were actually written and voiced by humans, have raised important questions that are not going away any time soon.

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