Virgil Abloh keeps racking up Ls in 2020. First, his name became synonymous with “fifty” after he screenshot evidence of himself giving all of $50 to support protests against racial violence. Now, he’s ironically getting called out by troll king 50 Cent and the whole of Black Twitter for his lackluster design of deceased rapper Pop Smoke’s debut album.
The album cover in question:
The Off-White designer revealed the cover in a since-deleted post on his Instagram on Monday night, saying he developed it in the memory of the rapper, who was shot to death in February.
“This album cover was one of like five things we talked about,” Abloh added. “He mentioned his story felt like the metaphor of a rose and thorns growing from the concrete of his hood in Carnesie, Brooklyn.”
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While the idea is lovely, the execution left a lot to be desired—as evidenced by the incredulous responses on Twitter which pointed out that the album cover didn’t look Abloh put that much work into it:
Even 50 Cent chimed in:
As did others, including Ryder Ripps—a conceptual artist and creative director who accused Abloh of ripping him off (excuse the pun) with the cover design and not doing the idea or Pop Smoke justice:
“This man took the entire chrome rose concept from me, ruined it with careless graphic design and then wrote some bullshit about it,” Ripps posted on Instagram. “So sad that someone would care this little about art, design and the memory of a human who was so loved to wrap his name up in lies and theft.”
It isn’t the first or even second time Abloh has been accused of plagiarism—though the frequent Kanye West collaborator has dismissed such callouts in the past and says he approaches design by changing originals “three percent.”
Either way, Pop Smoke fans kept it 100 percent—or two Virgil’s—by letting it known in no uncertain terms that this design won’t cut it for the posthumous offering from an artist whose life was tragically cut short. Some have even proposed their own cover designs:
Steven Victor, who managed the artist when he was alive, has since responded to the backlash by saying on Twitter that he is “making a change,” and that “Pop would listen to his fans.”
Hopefully, that means Abloh is going back to the drawing board.