How Elon Musk and Kanye West’s decade-long friendship came crashing down

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One is an antisemitic superstar rapper running for president. The other is the richest man in the world who spends his days posting memes to the social media platform he purchased on a whim. And both have been friends for more than a decade.

Elon Musk and Kanye West don’t appear to have much in common at first glance, but the pair have a years-long relationship that came under intense scrutiny this fall when the tech tycoon continued backing the rapper despite countless antisemitic comments.

However, their relationship finally reached a breaking point on Thursday (1 December).

Mr West sparked widespread outrage by declaring “I like Hitler” in an appearance on Alex Jones’ Infowars show alongside white supremacist Nick Fuentes. During the appearance, Mr West condemned Mr Musk and offered to allow both Mr Jones and Mr Fuentes – who are banned from Twitter – to post from his own account.

But the final straw came hours later when Mr West posted a Nazi symbol on Twitter, prompting Mr Musk to suspend his account.

Here, The Independent explains how the relationship got to this point:

Friendship blooms in 2011

Mr Musk and Mr West first met in 2011, when the SpaceX owner gave the rapper a private tour of the company’s rocket factory.

“Kanye stopped by the SpaceX rocket factory today,” Musk tweeted at the time.

In 2020, Mr Musk recalled their friendship fondly, responding to a photo of the men together at the factory by calling it a “hell of a decade.”

Years of exchanging praise

In the years after their first meeting, Mr Musk was complimentary of Mr West, calling him a “member of the cultural pantheon” in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list.

“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,” Mr Musk wrote in the bio.

He praised Mr West for being unafraid of judgement and for pushing the boundaries of his field.

“He’s not afraid of being judged or ridiculed in the process,” Mr Musk wrote. “Kanye’s been playing the long game all along, and we’re only just beginning to see why.”

Then, in 2018 during South by Southwest in Austin, Mr Musk told an audience during a Q&A that he was “obviously” inspired by Mr West.

The lovefest wasn’t one sided; Mr West praised Mr Musk the same year, saying in a tweet that he “really love[s] my Tesla.”

“I’m in the future,” he said. “Thank you Elon.”

In a more confusing show of support the same year, Mr West visited a small art college in Detroit and told students there not to criticise Elon Musk.

“I don’t give a f*** who’s at his house. Leave that man the f*** alone,” he shouted at students.

It’s unclear why he felt the need to defend Mr Musk at the time.

Mr West and Mr Musk also posed together in a photo in 2019 at the Kardashian-Jenner family Christmas Eve party, along with their spouses singer Grimes and Kim Kardashian. Both of those relationships have since ended.

The next year, Mr West announced his plan to run for president, despite missing numerous state deadlines to be added to the ballot. At the time, Mr Musk tweeted that Mr West had “my full support!”

Musk takes Twitter bromance to new level

In 2022, Mr Musk would buy Twitter and re-instate Mr West’s account after the rapper was banned for making anti-Semitic remarks on the platform and claiming he would go “death-CON 3” on Jewish people.

With Mr Musk now the owner of Twitter and Mr West making comments in public including “I like Hitler” and “I love Nazis,” their friendship may be put to the test. On Thursday, Mr West said he would allow conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes to post from his account.

Both Mr Jones and Mr Fuentes have been banned from Twitter, and if Mr West allows them to post on his account, it would violate Twitter’s policies on ban evasion.

Though it’s unclear exactly who posted it, someone tweeted on Mr West’s account that they “love the first amendment! Long live Ye! I pray to Jesus that Elon is for real…”

Later in his Twitter spree, Mr West posted an image with Nazi swastika inside the Star of David symbol – in what became the final straw for Mr Musk.

He then posted a photo of a topless Mr Musk on a yacht, writing: “Let’s always remember this as my final tweet.”

Relationship crumbles with final shot from Musk

Mr Musk and Mr West’s relationship appeared to come crashing down when the former blocked the latter’s Twitter account hours after the Infowars interview and shortly after the Nazi symbol tweet.

Mr Musk announced that he had suspended Mr West for violating Twitter’s policy against inciting violence, telling followers: “I tried my best.”

“Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended,” he tweeted, adding in a follow-up tweet that it had nothing to do with the photo of him on a yacht.

Instead, he joked that he found the “unflattering” topless photo of himself “helpful motivation to lose weight”.

“Just clarifying that his account is being suspended for incitement to violence, not an unflattering pic of me being hosed by Ari,” he tweeted.

“Frankly, I found those pics to be helpful motivation to lose weight!”

Behind the scenes, the two men appeared to get into a spat over the incident, with Mr West sharing screenshots of messages he had apparently received from Mr Musk through Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social.

“Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love,” Mr Musk apparently told him.

“Who made you the judge,” Mr West fired back, before sharing a screenshot of his account now suspended.

But, Mr Musk had the last word, making a final dig at Mr West in his last tweet for the day.

“FAFO,” he simply wrote.

The acronym stands for “F*** Around and Find Out” – sending a clear message to Mr West that he had gone too far and was no longer welcome on Twitter.

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