Tech in Action: Meet Travis Bott

Digital agency Space150 created a replica of an acclaimed hip hop artist to show the possibilities (and limitations) of AI.
travisbott

Creatives have reacted to the idea of being replaced by AI with alternating fear and skepticism. At the very least, now they know the bots won’t be replacing their favourite hip hop artists any time soon.

U.S.-based digital agency Space150, which has been developing a specialty in creating tech-forward solutions for clients, fed lyrics from Grammy-nominated hip hop artist Travis Scott into a neural network that, over the course of two weeks, used its newfound rap expertise to create a new song. The lyrics, like other times ad agencies have tried to replace writers with AI, are largely nonsensical:

“Pop some suits on any stay of freeze/I was your grave, pimp, and granny stand my space.”

“Yeah, I took to go, you say you really dude/Guess they don’t want the best of West food.”

However, one thing the AI – dubbed “Travis Bott” seems to have nailed is using some of Scott’s most commonly used words to match his rhyming structure and flow. The lyrics were set to melodies and rhythms created by a separate neural network and performed by someone whose voice was auto-tuned to closely match Scott’s. The agency created a music video for the final song – called “Jack Park Canny Dope Man” – with that same performer having Scott’s face mapped onto his own, visual glitches and all.

In an interview with AdWeek, Space150 ECD Ned Lampert said the project showed two things that would make most creatives happy: that AI can’t handle creative projects without human supervision on its own, but can still be incredibly useful as a tool.

“It came up with things that we would never come up with,” Lampert said. “I love the beautiful mistakes that we make all the time that get turned into work or [situations] where someone says something ridiculous and then we end up doing it. And there were some of those types of behaviors within this process.”

In addition to the song and video, Space150 added a couple of old- and new-school elements to the self-promo effort: it released the single on vinyl, as well as an AR app that can make it look like gold chains are floating above it as it spins on a record player.

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