Content Warning: This column contains brief references to drug abuse, sexual assault, and murder.
Elon Musk and Grimes have “semi-separated” after more than three years of relationship. The two have since declared that they are on good terms and will continue to co-parent their child, X Æ A-12.
While this initially seems like a run-of-the-mill celebrity drama, we mustn’t forget that the ex-couple’s complacency is emblematic of systemic racism in the music industry and in society at large.
I am a Grimes apologist. She is a pioneer of futuristic robotic sound which ultimately led to the rise of hyperpop. His dreamy, electronically-designed, space-age landscapes defy pop music conventions and breathe fresh air into the boundaries of the genre.
By creating his first three albums entirely on Apple’s “GarageBand” software, his rise to fame was a ragged story with a richness marked in savage detail and bizarre circumstances.
After releasing two un-promoted albums and a split EP, Grimes released his massively acclaimed groundbreaking album “Visions” in 2012.
An album produced in a heatless, frostbite Montreal “crack lair” in which his neighbor was pummeled to death, “Visions” propelled Grimes to the pinnacle of alternative music. This aerial electro-pop reverie featured “Oblivion,” a song about surviving a sexual assault, which later became Grimes’ best-known track.
Some time between her 2016 tour – during which she only ate spaghetti – and the 2018 Met Gala, Grimes made a romantic acquaintance with Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla. This news shocked the online community.
In June 2018, Grimes and mega-talented rapper Azealia Banks announced via Instagram that they were planning a collaboration.
Then, on August 7, 2018, Musk announced via Twitter that he was putting Tesla in private. This tweet sent Tesla stock prices soaring. The Securities and Exchange Commission then opened an investigation into Musk’s tweet – if his claims were false, he could have violated U.S. securities law.
On August 10, Banks arrived at Musk to collaborate with Grimes. In a conversation with Business Insider, Banks said she “saw (Musk) in the kitchen, putting his cock between his legs and looking for investors to cover his ass after that tweet.”
On August 12, Banks posted on Instagram that staying with Musk was like being in the race-based horror movie “Get Out.”
On August 13, Musk denied ever having met Banks. That same day, Banks shared on Instagram his experiences working with Grimes. In a single Instagram story, Banks wrote, among other degrading profanity, “Grimes really is an idiot.”
Over the next few days Musk admitted to seeing Banks for a few seconds, Banks claimed Musk was listening to his phone, Grimes and Musk stopped following each other on Instagram, Banks claimed Musk had threatened her with blackmail, Musk deleted his Instagram and finally, on August 19, Banks sent Musk a formal letter of apology.
A feud led by Azealia Banks is not uncommon. Banks had public, but sometimes justified, feuds with Cardi B, Remy Ma, Rihanna, Erykah Badu, Nick Cannon, Action Bronson, Lily Allen, Beyoncé, Russell Crowe, RZA, SZA, Zayn Malik, Skai Jackson, Sarah Palin, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Eminem, TI, Tiny, A $ AP Rocky, Rita Ora, Lady Gaga, Pharrell, Iggy Azalea, Lil ‘Kim, Rupaul, Nicki Minaj, Funkmaster Flex, Perez Hilton, among others.
But Banks ‘feud with Musk and Grimes highlighted important notions about Musk’s controversial history, Grimes’ apparent complacency towards him, and the filthy treatment of black women in white music spaces.
In another Instagram story, Banks wrote, “Elon Musk is really part of the problem. When you talk about white male privilege and colonialism…. His family’s wealth is rooted in the emerald and ore mines in southern Africa during apartheid … Ask Elon Musk what he’s doing for Africa? Nothing, he doesn’t know.
Musk’s family was extremely wealthy. His father, Errol Musk, once said, “Sometimes we had so much money that we couldn’t even lock our safe,” adding that one person had to hold the money in place and another would close the door. . The family’s wealth came mainly from a “half-share in a Zambian emerald mine, which would help finance his family’s lavish lifestyle of yachts, ski vacations and expensive computers,” according to Business Insider.
Musk’s family prospered economically in South Africa during the apartheid era. Negotiations began in 1987 to end apartheid, South Africa’s strict system of racial segregation. Musk left South Africa at the age of 17 in 1988.
Musk’s success is the result of his entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, but it is also the product of societal imbalances caused by systemic racism.
Musk’s economic practices may be a reason Grimes fans were shocked when the relationship between the two came to light. In 2020, Grimes tweeted that she respected Musk’s efforts for clean transit, taking humans into space, moving the world to clean energy, and striving for a universal basic income.
A month after Grimes’ tweet defending Musk, he tweeted that another government stimulus package was not in the best interest of the United States. He went on to imply that he would support a Bolivian coup if it meant he could get his hands on the country’s lithium supply. Grimes’ support for Musk, whose comments suggest he has imperialist beliefs, came as a brutal juxtaposition to his policies.
Musk has made massive donations to charities while dating Grimes, and I’m interested to see if these practices continue.
On Instagram Friday, Azealia Banks posted in reference to Grimes and Musk’s split, “Ok girl, can we finally do these damn songs now that apartheid Clyde is out of the way?”
While I doubt this will actually happen, I dream of these collaborations gracing my ears.
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