“Well, Kanye West, obviously.” That’s what SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said when he was asked about his inspiration during a Q&A session at South by Southwest in Texas over the weekend.
The tech magnate appeared on stage to a sold-out audience at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin, where he addressed interstellar travel through his aerospace company’s Mars-bound rocket and the future of artificial intelligence. He also took a minute to express his admiration for the rapper-slash-producer-slash-designer — to the crowd’s laughter — as well as deliver a shoutout to iconic American performer Fred Astaire. (“You should see my dance moves,” he added.)
Musk has previously praised the “Power” hitmaker, penning his bio “Boundary Breaker” in the 2015 list of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
“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,” he wrote. “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,'” Musk continued. “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.”
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