Music fans of a particular age will assuredly remember the hand-wringing that came along with reports that if you played certain vinyl records backward, you would get a warbled satanic message.
The technique of recording a message “backward,” known as “backmasking,” is a very real thing. The idea that artists were using backmasking to send messages for Satan… that’s a bit more open for debate.
But now, decades after vinyl records stopped being relevant, concerns about demonic music have been dredged up anew thanks to, of all artists, Ice Cube.
The legendary rapper recently spoke up about a startling new trend in music — and made it perfectly clear he is not a fan of that trend.
The trend? Using artificial intelligence to recreate singers’ voices.
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Appearing on the “Full Send” podcast last week, Ice Cube talked about the use of AI to produce songs and didn’t mince words.
WARNING: The following video contains language that viewers may find offensive.
“I think AI is demonic,” Ice Cube said. “I think AI is gonna get a backlash from real people.” As an extra jab, he clarified that he was talking about “real, organic people.”
“I think artists need to go back to using a real voice,” Ice Cube continued, “and making sure people know this is authentic and not made from a computer.”
Do you agree with Ice Cube about AI in music?
Understandably, when one of the most iconic artists in the history of West Coast rap has something to say about the state of music, people listen.
Ice Cube’s condemnation of AI in music led Fortune to needle him in a Monday article titled, “Ice Cube, musician who became famous rapping over samples, says A.I. is ‘demonic’ for doing a very similar thing.” For the unaware, “sampling” is when a previously recorded bit of audio is used in another piece of music.
Ice Cube responded to that Fortune article on Twitter, pointing out the glaring issue with its critique.
“Samples are approved or denied by the song owners,” Ice Cube said on Wednesday. “Totally different than taking a dead artist and making a new song they never approved and saying things they may not agree with.
“That’s evil and demonic to me.”
Indeed, there is an undeniable “ick” factor to hearing, say, a “new” Nirvana song despite Kurt Cobain having been dead for nearly 30 years now. (The song was created by AI, but sung by the vocalist of a Nirvana cover band.)
The entire controversy currently rests in a legal gray area. When someone sits down behind a computer and makes a song using Cobain’s AI-generated voice, will that be copyright infringement? Do artists own the rights to the sound of their own voices?
That’s for a court of law to decide.
But is that AI Nirvana song demonic and spitting on Cobain’s grave?
Ice Cube has unequivocally decided: Yes.
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