Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a new trend within art and music, reaching new heights beyond mere robotics. Late last year, AI-powered rapper FN Meka was dropped by Capitol Records after facing a severe backlash. However, artists and record labels still want to incorporate artificial intelligence into music, and legendary producer Timbaland is at the forefront of this quest. Recently taking to social media, the musician posted a snippet of a track he has been working on that features artificially produced vocals from Biggie Smalls. In his quest for feedback on the track, the Virginia beatmaker (real name Timothy Mosley) even tagged the AI critic, engineer Young Guru in the post.
In the short video, the musician explained to fans, “Alright, so, I’m sitting here with my brother, Creatr God, and we know that it’s a lot of talk about AI, and we know how the feelings of violating certain things, but let me tell you something: I got a solution, I’m working on it. It’s gon’ be beneficial to everybody. But, in the meantime, I gotta share something I’ve been working on because I always wanted to do this, and I never got a chance to. I always wanted to work with Big, and I never got a chance to — until today. It came out right! Play!” Mosley then played a song featuring an AI Biggie rhyming and name-dropping Pop Smoke and Nipsey Hussle. Though Timbaland’s production was praised, the AI element did cause stir up some controversy, with fans upset about his disrespect for the deceased Brooklyn rapper.
Taking to social media to give his perspective on artificial intelligence and its place within the music industry, Roc-A-Fella producer and audio engineer Young Guru posted a deep fake video of Jay-Z and explained his concerns stating, “On one hand, I’m well aware that you can’t stop technology. Once the genie is out of the box, you can put him back in. On the other hand, we have to protect the rights of the artist. Not only artists but everyone in society. People should not be able to take your name, image, and likeness without permission. We have to add a voice to this law.” Deep fakes have caused a lot of controversies in the music industry and beyond, as celebrities are seeing themselves doing and saying things they haven’t due to the technology. Earlier this year, recording industry giant Universal Music Group called upon Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and other streaming platforms to block AI versions of their artists and their copyrighted songs.
The UK has already seen artists such as Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Adele and Ariana Grande deep faked for a recently aired comedy tv series. However, Idris Elba, who was also featured, unveiled that he and Adele were not too happy about being used for the show. In their stern-worded statement, Universal explained to creators, “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.” When 2pac reappeared as a hologram over a decade ago at the 2012 Coachella festival, fans were elated and happy to see it. However, it was received differently by various generations. Young listeners who had never seen Shakur live before were glad to experience the thrill. However, some older cultural figures saw the artificial performance as disrespectful and tasteless.
In an interview with the online music publication Rock The Bells, intellectual property lawyer Antoine Wade recently revealed that concerning AI deep fakes, “As of now, they’re not illegal, but because of the chaos and manipulation they can cause, there may be remedies available to the person whose rights are being threatened.” Wade believes that the future will most likely see creators forced to include disclaimers as he explained, “It’s either two things, right? You put something in place where if you’re going to use artificial intelligence, there has to be some type of restrictions, or they have to be required to put disclaimers on their videos that say what you’re listening to is not Jay-Z, or is not Kanye West, this is only for entertainment purposes.”
You can watch Timbaland explain his tussle with AI in the video below and even hear a snippet of his song with Biggie as well.