E.Town Concrete

E.Town Concrete’s Anthony Martini Severs Ties With Virtual Rapper Amid Controversy


E.Town Concrete vocalist Anthony Martini has announced his exit from the label Factory New and the virutal artist created by the venture, FN Meka. Said digital artist was recently signed to Capitol Music and dropped by the label roughly a week later amid outcry over having been shown have used the n-word in its past output.

While FN Meka was represented by a digital avatar and voiced by a human, it was said by Martini in 2021, that technology has been powering its output. He told Music Business Worldwide at the time:

- Advertisement -

“We’ve developed a proprietary AI technology that analyzes certain popular songs of a specified genre and generates recommendation’s for the various elements of song construction: lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds, etc. We then combine these elements to create the song.

As of now, a human voice performs the vocals, but we are working towards the ability to have a computer come up with and perform its own words – and even collaborate with other computers as ‘co-writers’.”

Meanwhile, this past Wednesday, a rapper by the name of Kyle The Hooligan came forward with claims that his voice and likeness were used as the basis for FN Meka, and that he was then ghosted by the co-creators behind the project, who reportedly are a pair of brothers named Chris and Brandon Le.

In a newly-issued statement, Martini has announced that he has now severed ties with the project, offering:

“After much consideration, I have decided to sever ties with FN Meka and Factory New effective immediately.

I joined the team in early 2020 because I am truly passionate about the future of digital media and felt my background could help fulfill Meka’s potential in the music industry. It’s become apparent that I should have done more diligence before joining. 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. I believe that artists must always be at the center of the creative process and must be compensated fairly.

I debated making a statement at all, but felt there is some basic info that should be available to clarify the record: I did not create FN Meka, nor did I ever claim to. I discovered Meka online almost a year after “Moonwalkin” and “Internet” were released on Soundcloud and after the police brutality Instagram post was already made. I joined the team in early 2020 and was named co-founder with my specific focus being business development and artist management. I take responsibility for diving into a project without comprehensively examining its history.

As a manager, my role has always been to create opportunities while the artists on our team lead creative. I’ll always defer to the talent when it comes to how they choose to express themselves and will back them in their vision. I can’t speak for what happened before me, but while I was involved, artists on the project were always compensated fairly and participated in the revenue from their work.

I also take full responsibility for the lack of transparency and confusion that my comments about “A.I.” elements in Meka’s music may have caused. 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.

There are many lessons to be learned from this experience and I believe we have opened important conversations about entertainment in the digital age, the music industry, the metaverse, and what art in general looks like in the future.

Too many artists never realize their dreams because of the labels put on them by society. The music industry is full of talented singers, rappers and producers who never get a shot because a corporation doesn’t think they have “right look” or are “too old” or not “marketable enough.” Whether it’s prejudices they face or simply the artist not feeling comfortable with the body they were born in, virtual characters have the potential to be a true equalizer and the next frontier in representation in the arts.

That is how virtual avatars can and should enable MORE artists to have a platform, not fewer. Throughout my career, whether as an artist manager, a label head, or an executive, I’ve been consistent in my mission to empower creatives and provide alternatives to unscrupulous norms in the music business. I will continue to do that.

Anthony Martini

Amid this latest scrutiny and backlash, Martini‘s own murky past in the area has come to light. Martini frequently used the n-word himself on various late 90s/early 2000s E.Town Concrete tracks, including “Guaranteed“, “Hold Up“, “One Life To Live” and more.

- Advertisement - Purchase Merch