Frank Ocean Fans Tricked Into Buying AI-Generated Songs Passing as Leaks

Two of the most prevalent topics of discussion in music this year have been artificial intelligence and Frank Ocean. This week, both entities came together to make one of the most head-scratching stories of 2023.

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On May 10, Vice published an article that revealed how several Ocean fans recently paid a scammer named mourningassasin for files of leaked songs from the singer. However, it turned out that the songs were not made by Ocean at all, but instead used an AI-generated Ocean voice simulator.

For the story, Vice spoke to mourningassasin about their process, which netted them around $9,600. mourningassasin claimed that they first started out by posting a real leak they obtained of a Ocean song to Discord and other forums where Ocean leaks are prevalent. Vice had no way of confirming if this “Leak” was a real Ocean song, though.

Once the leak gave mourningassasin credibility on these forums, they then hired a musician to record about nine songs using an AI model that mimicked Ocean’s voice. After posting these fake tracks to the forums full of Ocean fans in April, a few of them began to gain traction and popularity on Reddit and Twitter.

Eventually, administrators for the forums began to realize and announce to users that the songs were not Frank Ocean originals. This led mourningassasin to finally admit that they were AI-generated, as he was subsequently banned from many of the forums.

“This situation has put a major dent in our server’s credibility, and will result in distrust from any new and unverified seller throughout these communities,” a Frank Ocean Discord administrator named Gamma told Vice.

mourningassasin’s plot is just the latest addition to the ongoing AI saga that’s dominated music headlines in 2023. Most recently, artists like Timbaland and Grimes have shown surprising support for the technology, while others like Lil Durk and Nick Cave have not been so open to accepting AI’s current role in the industry.

While many mainstream artists were sharing their two cents, though, an AI-generated Drake and The Weeknd song released in April earned hundreds of thousands of streams on digital streaming platforms. But, it was then removed from the platforms days later, as Universal Music Group made their strong stance against A.I. known to the world.

As time goes on and AI gains more supporters and haters, stories such as the Frank Ocean/mourningassasin debacle will only become more common.

Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage

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