Technology and music are becoming more intertwined by the day, and artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the latest tools producers and musicians are using to create exciting and unique tracks. AI has significantly impacted hip-hop, and, in recent months, artificial tracks from the likes of Drake, Kanye West and Jay-Z have surfaced on the internet, showcasing how fans can now use the voices of their favourite artists by typing with a few clicks of the mouse. Early last year, Capitol Records received tremendous backlash following the introduction of their AI rapper, FN Meka.
The nonprofit organisation INDUSTRY BLACKOUT described the racially ambiguous computer-generated emcee as an “abomination, disrespectful to real people who face real consequences in real life.” Following this, the AI-powered virtual musician was dropped. However, artificial intelligence is still influencing popular culture, especially concerning hip-hop. In this article, we are going to list the top five AI-generated songs.
Nowadays, computers can mimic and recreate the vocal tones and inflexions of real people and artists. Recently, the legendary Virginia producer Timbaland previewed a track featuring Biggie Smalls’ vocals. Legally there is a lot of ambiguity and many complications. However, many songs have still been made. The voice-generated AI track ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ features the fake singing voices of Drake and The Weeknd. However, a far cry from a robotic-sounding voice, this AI-created collaboration sounds extremely realistic and is hugely popular. Artificial Intelligence has become a new trend within art and music, reaching new heights beyond mere robotics.
In an interview with the online music publication Rock The Bells, intellectual property lawyer Antoine Wade recently revealed that concerning AI tracks that, “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.”
The five best AI-generated hip-hop songs:
5. ‘Savages’ – Jay-Z
‘Savages’ was produced by the electronic-rap duo AllttA, comprised of French producer 20Syl and California rapper Mr J Medeiros, AllttA stands for “A little lower than the Angels.” The AI-generated track hears Jay-Z deliver bouncy flows and punchy verses. However, Roc-A-Fella producer and audio engineer Young Guru does not like the song.
Guru recently spoke out on AI 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.”
4. ‘The Message’ – The Notorious B.I.G.
This track is an AI-generated rendition of Nas’ 1996 track ‘The Message’ from his sophomore album It Was Written. This computer-generated version offers listeners the chance to hear what the song would have sounded like if the late Notorious B.I.G. had recorded the song. The original track was produced by production duo The Trackmasters and was recorded at The Hit Factory in New York.
The track is different from other pre-existing remixes as it is not an acapella from a song Biggie Smalls recorded while he was alive but is instead a set of completely new lyrics delivered with his inflexions and cadences.
3. ‘Drowning’ – XXXTentacion
A remix of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s breakthrough 2017 single, ‘Drowning’ has a sombre, introspective beat that sounds like it could have come straight from XXXTentacion’s catalogue. ‘Drowning’ was released in 2017 as the lead single for A Boogie’s debut album, The Bigger Artist. Produced by Jahaan Sweet and Quasi, it reached number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The trap song spent three weeks in the top 40, and as of March 2023, the track is certified eight-times platinum by the RIAA.
2. ‘2 Certified’ – Kanye West
Originally produced and written by Hit-Boy for his Surfer Drown album lead single, this AI-generated track hears the legendary Chicago rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West rapping lyrics that were processed by a computer. Taking to social media to post a clip of the track, Hit-Boy wrote, “AI is getting insane @kanyewest rapping 2certified sounds too crazy.”
Many renowned DJs such as Clark Kent and Peter Rosenberg voiced their concerns in the comments section as AI-rap songs become more prevalent on the internet.
1. ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ – Drake ft The Weeknd
Produced by the relatively unknown artist Ghostwriter, ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ was made with cloned voices taken from the internet. Although neither Drake nor The Weeknd provided vocals for this track, it went viral on social media due to its catchy melody but was removed from streaming sites for legal reasons. ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ hears the two Canadian vocalists exchange lyrics about popstar and actress Selena Gomez.
Although the song was extremely popular, Universal Music Group, the label to which both artists are signed, said it “represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law.” The statement continued, “The training of generative AI using our artists’ music as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation.”