Last month, FN Meka, a rapper who was supposedly made by AI and signed to Capitol Music Group, was introduced to the world. The fake act, which was made by Brandon Le and Anthony Martini, seemed to show that the music business was ready to join the world of digital influencers, but the project was quickly criticized.The activist group Industry Blackout said that FN Meka’s use of the N-word in its lyrics only helped to reinforce negative ideas about Black people. Also, alleged writer Kyle the Hooligan, a Black rapper from Houston, said that after Le “ghosted” him, he still hadn’t been paid for his work.
Capitol dropped FN Meka just two days after they signed.
FN Meka isn’t the first virtual act in the business, and it won’t be the last. Many people say that Gorillaz was the first virtual band in the world. Still, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett haven’t been able to bring their songs to the stage. Albarn usually performs the songs live by himself with the help of a backing band and guest musicians.
Instead, one only needs to look at the Vocaloid craze in Japan. It’s basically software that lets anyone make a human voice that can be used with music. Hatsune Miku is by far the most popular Vocaloid. She has devoted fans in both Japan and the West, and she even performs live in concerts as a hologram. She has done more than just make music. She has been on racing cars and in her own rhythm games.
Jeff Oloizia of the New York Times was asking, “Does Hatsune Miku’s Rise Mean the End of Music as We Know It?” back in 2014. Well, it’s been eight years, and the music business is still going strong.
Even though the crypto market crashed, Miami is still very invested in crypto, so it was only a matter of time before someone used the blockchain to make their own digital performer.
Since 2014, 11USA Group, which owns the Miami ultra club E11even, has led many brands away from its home on Eleventh Street. The club’s gear, like the famous E11even snapback, has become a fashion statement all over the world. It has given rise to a record label and a vodka brand, and along Northeast 11th Street, condos with the name “E11even” are already being built.
“I moved to Miami to create the E11even concept with my partners Dennis DeGori, Michael Simkins, and Marc Roberts, and we had a lot of successes,” says Gino LoPinto, operating partner of E11even and its latest concept, E11even Music, a record label and artist/producer management company. “We already had other verticals that we were discussing, from vodka to a music label. Crypto was interesting to us, and when NFTs came out, we wanted to eventually end up in the metaverse, whether it’s a club or property or gaming.”
Meta-Primate #11 from the Bored Yacht Ape Club collection is the non-transferable token that is used to club. It is now called 11Ape and is the first artist that E11even Music has signed.
“We weren’t sure, but we knew we wanted to start with an NFT,” LoPinto explains. “Our hats have become pretty successful, so we said let’s base our NFT around our hats. We thought, let’s buy Bored Ape Yacht Club, and it made sense to buy number eleven.”
The plan was simple: buy the ordinary ape with stubble and a cigarette in a velvet bathrobe who is smoking it, grow it to life, and knight it with E11even swag.
Putting NFTs and music together can only make a line between them. On one side are people who think that a producer’s music can be shown off through a beautiful mix of music, art, and technology. On the other hand, there are people who don’t like this idea and think it’s just a silly trick to push a scene that wants to make money.
LoPinto looks up to electronic artists like Daft Punk and Deadmau5 who are hard to find. He thinks that being unknown is a sign of success. And showing off an NFT, which is a new idea that many people don’t understand, adds another layer of mystery on top of putting a monkey mask on someone and spinning the decks.
“I brought the idea back to my partners, and we thought we could create a live character with 11Ape who could embody the soul and brand of E11even. They loved it,” he says. “The story is that once we put the E11even hat on, 11Ape came to life. Sort of like a Frosty the Snowman, so to speak.”
The virtual primate was never supposed to be floating in the air. Instead, its drive comes from being a DJ and producer in both the metaverse and on Earth.
“I met with [Pitbull’s DJ] IAmChino, and we started collaborating on what would be a good start for 11Ape,” LoPinto says. “He played me a portion of “Bad Girls,” which wasn’t done at the time, but I said, ‘I love this. It’s got the hook, and I think we should do something with it down the road.'”
At first, LoPinto thought that “Bad Girls” should be promoted as 11Ape’s second or third song, but Mr. 305 Records president Robert Fernandez thought that the vibe and Vikina’s vocals made it clear that it should be 11Ape’s first single.
“I liked the vocal, and we took the track to fruition with the visualizer and the marketing support,” LoPinto explains. “It came about not more than three weeks ago. We had a conversation about putting this out, and we shot the video.”
“Bad Girls,” which is only two minutes and 15 seconds long, tries to bottle the last few rays of summer. The song is based on Donna Summer’s 1979 hit of the same name. Vikina sings on two of the verses and raps on the bridge.”There are moments that get to be free/And those nights that were made for you and me/On and on until the moon want to leave/I want to be with the girls like me/Yeah bad girls (bad girls)/They always talking about the bad girls (bad girls).”