Shocking the world, the late Virgil Abloh, who rose to fashion royalty as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director in 2018, passed away on Sunday 28th November after a long fight with a rare cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. He was just 41 years old. Battling with this illness secretly for the past few years, he still managed to change hip-hop and streetwear fashion with his amazing ties to the genre (Drake was a close friend of his and Virgil helped out with Ye’s first-ever fashion line, Pastelle, in the late ‘00s). And these musical friends have kept Virgil and his iconic brand Off-White alive through their lyrics about aspiration and attainment. Here are 10 tracks that comment on just how legendary Virgil Abloh’s legacy is in fashion and music.
Quality Control & Quavo, ‘Virgil’ (2019)
Lyric: “White (white), and it’s snowin’ (snowfall) / Off-White (white), and it’s snowin’ (Off-White)”
Why it summed up Virgil: Virgil Abloh has had a huge influence on hip-hop, especially when it comes to fashion and designs within the culture. Although Quavo doesn’t refer to Virgil Abloh directly, he plays on the idea of his brand Off-White, which becomes a euphemism for drugs, showing how intertwined Virgil was within rap culture.
Rina Sawayama, ‘Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)’ (2020)
Lyric: “Miu Miu, Prada, Mugler, Virgil, Ross, Nicola”
Why it summed up Virgil: Yes, he was an icon in the hip-hop community, but Rina‘s ‘Comme des Garçons’ proves that Virgil was now bigger than just a streetwear designer or a hip-hop creative. He was a mainstream thinker who was and could be celebrated by all communities, whether it’s pop fans, classic fashionistas, or more. Just because you aren’t a fan of hip-hop doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate Abloh’s achievements in fashion.
Giggs, ‘Whipping Excursion’ (2016)
Lyric: “White so clean, you know I’m flipping that Persil / Soon be the million-dollar man, like I’m living with Virgil”
Why it summed up Virgil: Virgil Abloh is one of the biggest black fashion designers who wasn’t a musician beforehand, and Giggs aspires to reach that level of success on ‘Whipping Excursion’. You could now speculate that he has after – in the same year of this song’s release – the Peckham rapper featured on the viral mosh-pit anthem ‘KMT’ from Drake’s mixtape, ‘More Life’, that brought him worldwide notoriety.
JME, ‘Pulse 8’ (2015)
Lyric: “When us man touch down in New York, it’s lit / Ask Virgil, ask Bari, crazy baldhead, word to Bob Marley”
Why it summed up Virgil: Most people in their rhymes refer to Louis Vuitton or Off-White, but on ‘Pulse 8’, JME understands the clout Virgil had as this superstar designer and gets him to vouch for him. That’s a super-flex that speaks not only to JME knowing someone as powerful as Virgil Abloh, but also to Virgil’s international appeal and worldly knowledge.
Dreamville, Lute & Omen (featuring EARTHGANG, Ari Lennox, REASON, and Childish Major), ‘Revenge’ (2020)
Lyric: “Give you classic quotes just for kicks like Virgil”
Why it summed up Virgil: This line, from Dreamville signee Omen, touches on Virgil Abloh’s signature quotation marks in his logos. When you see quotation marks on an item of clothing – such as “FOR WALKING” on a pair of boots – you instantly knew it was Abloh’s work, since it sarcastically announced what the item was.
Griselda, ‘DR.BIRDS’ (2019)
Lyric: “Told Virgil write “Brick” on my brick”
Why it summed up Virgil: Signing items – with his aforementioned signature quotes – is something Abloh only did for close friends or those in whom he saw bright futures. Thus, no matter what it’s on, if you got Virgil to sign something for you, it was one of the most coveted co-signs – especially in hip-hop.
DigDat, ‘Ei8ht Mile’ (2019)
Lyric: “Then I put it in a zip bag like Virgil”
Why it summed up Virgil: Along with the quotation marks, another signature staple to Off-White’s clothing is its use of zip ties. Thus, the link here between the zip bag and Virgil Abloh is his love to include bright orange or white cable ties marked with the quotation mark “Off-White”. Sometimes the simplest references are the best.
G-Eazy featuring EST Gee, ‘At Will’ (2021)
Lyric: “I keep it two Virgils in all of my lyrics”
Why it summed up Virgil: Referencing one of the last cultural moments influenced by Abloh, G-Eazy uses Virgil’s name in place of 50; a bit like how in cockney rhyming slang, a “bullseye” is £50. When donating to the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, Abloh gave $50 – and thus his name became synonymous with the number 50. Now, if you say “two Virgils”, some would understand that you mean 100. What a convoluted way to say you keep it 100, Gerald!
Tyler, The Creator, ‘TIPTOE’ (2018)
Lyric: “Y’all was out in Paris dick-riding Virgil”
Why it summed up Virgil: This line proves just how lucrative that Virgil Abloh’s co-signs are. Everyone knew that if you were the next best thing in hip hop or fashion in general, then you had to try and get one from Virgil, resulting in a lot of hangers-on in his circle.
Drake, ‘What’s Next’ (2021)
Lyric: “Yeah, I got one, Virgil got one and that there is the only two”
Why it summed up Virgil: Drake was close friends with the Off-White creator – so much so that when the brand partnered with watchmaker Patek Philippe to create a timepiece, only two were made – and were owned by Drake and Virgil. These emerald green, crocodile-inspired watches are the perfect best friend two-pieces, an unbreakable bond between Virgil Abloh and music culture.