Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink, and The Boring Company, has always had a flair for nerdy showmanship. He gives his many fans nearly endless pop-culture details over which to obsess, be they science-fiction references in the names of SpaceX droneships or Easter egg video games in the consoles of their cars. Now, he's given them an anthem: "Dont Doubt ur Vibe." He's released it on Soundcloud.
Musk is hardly the first titan of industry to release a musical vanity project. New Yorkers might be familiar with JD & The Straight Shot, the roots rock band founded by Cablevision CEO and Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, James Dolan. Just as Dolan's band plays into an idea of authenticity, Musk's track plays into his own created image as a person who is very, very online.
There's not much one can say about "Don't Doubt ur vibe" from a musical perspective, mainly because the track is not trying to say much itself. The track is lighthearted and posi-vibes only. With Musk on vocals and writing the lyrics, he says "don't doubt your vibe / it knows it's true" over and over again, over a dreamy and quick beat that offers a few sonic wipes. The track's big twist? When Musk says "don't doubt your vibe / it knows it's...you." It would be truly surprising if Elon Musk proved himself a fan of '80s Chicago house, it might be too stereotypically bro-y for Bassnectar-style epic bass drop. If the track has any influences, they likely stem from his partner, the electronic musician Grimes, and 'Lofi Hip Hop Radio to Relax/Study to.'
There's also Musk's choice of delivery system. Surely, he has nearly unlimited options in terms of when and how he could release a musical track. There are his fleet of cars, which he has used for sonic before: Tesla owners can expect customized horn sounds soon, including Monty Python references, goat sounds, and farts. He's sent as a car into space which played David Bowie's "Space Oddity." With resources far beyond those of most people, why would Musk drop a track on a service as humble as SoundCloud, described by Pitchfork writer Alphonse Pierce as "associated with broke-ass rappers with dreams of hip-hop stardom"?
The answer could lie a few years back, when in the late 2010s became so associated with a certain type of unpolished and often teenage rapper that it spawned it's own genre: Soundcloud rap. Around 2016 and 2017, New York Times author Jon Caramancia wrote at the time, that these artists...
...gathered primarily on SoundCloud, the streaming service most oriented toward music discovery, and the one with the lowest barrier to entry. That has meant a new ecosystem of rising stars, who ascend quicker than ever — releasing songs that get millions of listens, booking nationwide tours, selling merchandise — without traditional gatekeepers.
While SoundCloud rap's most outlandish and offensive impulses have been dimmed — in several instances by the death of a young rapper — the service still maintains a reputation as a place where new musicians pop up faster than can be counted.
It's been a long time since Musk could truly be considered an underdog in any objective, societal sense. He's successfully leveraged his PayPal days into massively successful companies that have contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense, Tesla is now considered the most valuable car maker of all time. Sympathies with Elon Musk vary widely, but it's clear that in some sense, he still views himself as an underdog. He takes on Tesla short sellers and unionization efforts with equal gusto, eager to crush those with a different vision.
One can imagine Musk repeating the lyrics -- "Don't Doubt ur vibe" -- to himself after any one his challengers, be they the United Auto Workers or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It's doubtful that Musk will win much support from the world of techno. When reached for comment on Musk's track, EDM historian Michaelangelo Matos, who in 2015 wrote The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, offered Inverse a one word reaction: "No."
Matos' book recounts the story of American electronic music through a series of events, starting with artists like Frankie Knuckles in Chicago, playing small, nearly anonymous venues with names like The Warehouse and The Power Plant. The book traces the music's populist rise all the way through massive events like the Electric Daisy Carnival, which in Orlando last year saw 225,000 people attend.
Musk's track portends another venue for the music: corporate events. It's easy to imagine attendees of events like the recent Cybertruck launch dancing along to "Don't Doubt ur vibe." It's not aggressive or sexual, and could keep people upbeat if there are technical delays.
Musk is at his peak in grand, populist moments, lighting the flames of both his detractors and fans. Music is supposed to bring people together, and "Don't Doubt ur vibe" will likely do just that: those who consider Musk a living Tony Stark will likely delight and move on, and those who think of him more as a supervillian will have one more grievance for their already quite-long list. Whatever you're feeling, don't doubt ur vibe.