In the wake of the controversy surrounding the virtual rapper FN Meka, a Houston-based rapper named Kyle The Hooligan has posted a video on Instagram claiming that he wasn’t paid by Factory New, the company behind FN Meka, for his work voicing the character’s machine-written lyrics. In the video, he says he originally planned to wait until the project made more money before seeking legal action, but after being inundated with messages about the controversy, decided to share his story.
“Basically, they came to me with this AI shit and was like would I want to be the voice of it,” he recalls. “I thought it was going to be a collaboration. They promised me equity in the company, percentages, all this stuff. So, I’m thinking this is about to be something different for me, so I can do my music and be on some AI stuff with this FN Meka character… Next thing I know, n****s just ghosted me. 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. I wasn’t involved in no meetings, none of that… Honestly, I’m glad they ass got canceled, that’s karma.”
Genius’ Jacques Morel confirmed that Kyle The Hooligan is the voice behind the virtual rapper — or, at least, its lyrics — in an in-depth report last year, which you can watch below. Although Kyle did not answer questions about his involvement at the time, it appears that he was miffed about being left out of Capitol Records’ discussions with Factory New regarding “signing” the rapper. Meanwhile, in a New York Times report about Capitol dropping FN Meka after an online backlash, Anthony Martini, a music manager who is one of Factory New’s founders, says that Capitol did not pay an advance, which was confirmed by the label itself.
Critics of the FN Meka project, including the music business advocacy group Industry Blackout, called it an “amalgamation” of gross stereotypes” and “appropriative mannerisms,” and said it “is a direct insult to the Black community.” Meka’s lyrics, written by a machine learning algorithm based on SoundCloud rappers like Lil Pump and Tekashi 69, repeated use the word “nigga” despite that code being programmed by an Asian creator and bankrolled by a white man, and using a character model with ambiguous, inhuman features. In its announcement that FN Meka had been dropped, Capitol Records apologized for its “insensitivity” and thanked those who gave feedback.