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Virgil Abloh: Hip Hops Renaissance Man

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Every creative is a Jedi in the fight against the dark side. Every creative has to hone their craft & harness their creative energy or Force. You have to dedicate time & effort into craftsmanship, technique, skill & design in order to optimize certain functions, while leaving room for the muse of inspiration. You have to inspire yourself, educate yourself, broaden your horizons, & learn from a broad spectrum of information.

Another one of my superheroes just passed away. Virgil Abloh, the acclaimed menswear designer for Louis Vuitton and founder and CEO of Off-White, died Sunday November 28, 2021 of cancer, at 41 years old after battling privately for 2 years. My deepest condolences to his friends, family & fans around the world. The world lost a soldier in the fight for a better, harmonious, peaceful & more beautiful world. If you’ve followed any of my work from music to literature to graphic design, my entire creative approach was influenced by Virgil Abloh, Kanye West & that entire Donda team. Virgil was literally a repository of free and useful information that’s helped so many up and comic creatives navigate the Internet space. He made streetwear like Hip Hop by sampling, merging, mixing and creating a new spin on something old. He got kids, specifically young men, all over the world to be interested in fashion.

Very rarely do people who have done so much give out so much information for free & yet this guy was dedicated to making every piece of information he had accessible to everyone that was after him. So many of his lectures & resources have guided my decision making. He quite literally revolutionized how an entire generation approaches art.

Donda, the design hub, became an incubator for some of the worlds greatest designers in Kanye, Virgil Abloh, Matthew Williams, and Justin Saunders. Ultimately Donda was a mission to raise the taste level of the world. It was about showing the youth that it's possible for them to do anything, and it gave inspiration to the kids of the Internet generation who learn things like beat-making on the computer as opposed to in band class.

For years, what Donda actually was remained mysterious. The original mission at Donda was to figure out how aspiration could be turned into actual projects. Kanye, Virgil & the team were focused on music & fashion during its inception and they figured out new methods of learning & actualizing, thanks to the powers of the internet. The process during the inception of the organization was going from tiny details to the broadest possible reach: You create music for a show, then you create a stage for the show, then you create the media for the show, then you create the effects for the show, and then you create merchandise for the whole thing, then maybe you create a pavilion that travels with an art project by Vanessa Beecroft.

I related to Virgil in many ways so I always felt a stake in his success, I think we all did. Virgil was a member of the African diaspora & a kid from Chicago that made it to heights we didn’t think were even possible. Virgil is the reason I could even conceptualize that I could use my graphic design skills in fashion, industrial design, and maybe even build planes like Abloh Engineering. I wouldn’t have known it was possible had someone that looked like me not flown to those heights. Virgil was a trained architect who liked Hip Hop, clothes, music videos, products & beauty in all forms, so he applied his taste to all those fields.

I went to Paris in the summer of 2021 & I couldn’t stop playing the Shake The Room video because that video inspired my voyage. I also played Niggas In Paris a million times & he designed the Watch The Throne album cover. This guy has been a staple & one of the most influential people on my generations culture. Virgil expanded our horizons & broadened our minds towards knowledge. He embodied the humanities from being a trained architect to his keen eye for design, he was on a Bauhaus mission to get rid of walls & borders and purely focus on enhancing the human experience through aesthetics, music, economic empowerment & creative empowerment, but it was never corny. He would film videos for Pop Smoke & Lil Uzi, he would put chains on a Caravaggio painting for a Westside Gunn album cover, he would do donuts in a Ferrari in Paris. Virgil showed us that we could be ourselves everywhere.

Virgil took a stand for all of us. For millennia Black artists' work would be stolen, in the same way Picasso took from African cubists & Elvis took Rock & Roll, Virgil would take Renaissance paintings & put his logo on it. But it wasn’t racial, it was an embrace of postmodernity. Our world is filled with doomers who are upset with the state of postmodernity & how culture is constantly regurgitated, but Virgil understood the importance of this moment in time, our tastes, our takes, our perspectives & our opinions of the world around us are what make up our experience. There was only one Virgil Abloh and now his taste & view of the world is stamped in the broader History of Art.

We live in a very different world than our parents & grandparents. We grew up experiencing media, symbols & signs that shapes how we view the world & how we express it, so Virgil put his own spin on the existing history of art. That’s why he used industrial designs like crosswalk paintings on his clothing, as a way to show the signs that are unique to postmodern humans that live in Urban environments.

Virgil taught us that due to the internet we really can be anything, anything at all, literally. All we have to do is educate ourselves, & he made himself an open book. There’s thousands of stories of Virgil reaching out to small Instagram pages & helping them, his Free Game open source website changed the trajectory of my life.

People like Virgil Abloh, Ye, Jay Z, A$AP, Tyler The Creator, Pharrell Williams, Donald Glover, J Cole & others like them who break barriers in the parameters of mediums available for artists are creating the internet age renaissance where it is possible to be proficient in a variety of fields because ultimately its all the same & it's all about communicating beauty & enhancing the human experience.

Nipsey Hussle said it’s a marathon, but I didn’t really understand what he was referring to when I was younger, it sounded like he was just talking about his own life & his family’s life, like generational wealth was from father to son & so on, but as I delved deeper into Nipsey's career & Virgil's career, they both lived in service of others. The marathon was always about the people, all of the people, generational wealth is a mentality shift, & that’s what these guys have given my generation. They were focused on financial empowerment, creative empowerment, intellectual empowerment, independence, self reliance, education and self sustainability, fly shit, and what that looks like in the age of the internet. They showed us how we can use our laptops & change the world with them.

Virgil created Off-White, & he was helping the furtherance of art & creativity as a whole, he’s responsible for designing most of my favorite album covers, directing many of my favourite music videos, designing some of the most influential clothing items of the century & changing the entire culture of Hip Hop. He was pushing our mentality in Hip Hop towards broader horizons. He was Hip Hops first trained architect that made it to the levels he got to & he showed us the path.

He showed us that we can go further than we even knew we could, & the marathon continues as the renaissance is happening. These are key figures in the cultural renaissance that is currently taking shape, they helped influence the trajectory of this Wakanda that other Jedi's are pushing towards. That’s the purpose of the humanities, it's to expand minds, expand taste, create a more beautiful, harmonious world, build moral & ethical character, transcend & unite people and to shift the zeitgeist. There’s an outpour of love from creatives in all fields because that’s how impactful influence is.

The system still doesn't understand what Hip Hop & the internet have created, but Virgil understood, & that's why he was giving out free information, to speed up this cultural evolution that is taking shape towards making humanity more sophisticated, civil, beautiful & advanced. Hip Hop is the first genre that mixes every other genre into itself, it mixes every culture into itself, its overarching and global, its the culture of the internet human hive mind. By pushing the right type of messaging through the most captivating medium to affect humanity in centuries, you can change the world & make it a better place, and that's what he did. People like Virgil laid the bricks & its our duty to continue their La Sagrada Familia for centuries to come in order to attain the ideal that made Virgil embark on his mission.

Virgil taught black kids how it looks to be free, that we could spend life on this Earth creating beauty, traveling, dressing up and doing things that add on to our happiness. The Marathon continues.

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