Elon Musk on who has inspired him: ‘Kanye West, obviously’

Elon Musk and Kanye West. Getty
  • During an interview at South by Southwest on Sunday,Elon Musk said he was “obviously” inspired by the rapper Kanye West.
  • The tech entrepreneur previously wrote a blurb for West’s inclusion in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2015.

The billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk lists the rapper Kanye West as one of his inspirations.

During a Q&A session at South by Southwest on Sunday, Musk was asked, “Everyone in this room is inspired by you – who are you inspired by?”

“Well, Kanye West, obviously,” Musk quickly replied, to an eruption of laughter from the crowd.

Musk also cited the Hollywood icon Fred Astaire as an inspiration, saying, “You should see my dance moves.”

While Musk’s mention of West evoked laughter from the festival audience, the Tesla CEO has had a history of praising West’s career.

In 2015, Musk wrote the following laudatory blurb for West’s inclusion in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list:

“Kanye West would be the first person to tell you he belongs on this list. The dude doesn’t believe in false modesty, and he shouldn’t. Kanye’s belief in himself and his incredible tenacity – he performed his first single with his jaw wired shut – got him to where he is today. And he fought for his place in the cultural pantheon with a purpose. In his debut album, over a decade ago, Kanye issued what amounted to a social critique and a call to arms (with a beat): ‘We rappers is role models: we rap, we don’t think.’ But Kanye does think. Constantly. About everything. And he wants everybody else to do the same: to engage, question, push boundaries. Now that he’s a pop-culture juggernaut, he has the platform to achieve just that. He’s not afraid of being judged or ridiculed in the process. Kanye’s been playing the long game all along, and we’re only just beginning to see why.”

Watch a clip from Musk’s SXSW interview below: