When the news emerged in the final days of November last year that Virgil Abloh, the American fashion designer, had died of cancer at the age of 41, there was much shock and sadness. Shock at the news he had cancer – which he had chosen to keep private – and sadness at his untimely passing, barely in his 40s.
The house music world primarily noticed his passing because of Abloh’s work as a DJ. Honey Dijon was a close friend of his, and at least three sources have told me Abloh was working on music with Roy Davis Jr. He was also a fan of Detroit – roping Juan Atkins in to do a Cybotron show for Louis Vuitton. Sadly, the real brain behind Cybotron – Rik Davis – was not involved.
Since then, rumours have swirled around that Kanye West will be Abloh’s replacement at Louis Vuitton. The company itself has made no public comment on the matter – although two closely connected sources have told me it’s very likely to happen. As one phrased it, “it’s a very good yes this’ll be the case”.
And the fact Louis Vuitton have made no comment on the subject hasn’t stopped some people in Detroit from getting very annoyed. A source who has previously informed me of a few stories relating to Derrick May and who knows most of the big names in the city’s dance scene had a few things to say when I reached out.
He told me “Virgil was good for Detroit. That’s why a lot of the guys here were really sad to see what happened – Detroit doesn’t let many outsiders in, but some of them saw Virgil as a Detroiter. Juan Atkins got to do a Cybotron show with Louis Vuitton a couple of years ago out of it – and Atkins spent weeks afterwards telling everyone how much he was paid. It was something like $70,000 he said, if I remember it right.”
“But if Kanye gets the job, Detroit techno is f***ed. He cares about commercial stuff. Detroit techno isn’t commercial – and even if one of the bigger players was offered the chance, they’d probably be too dumb to take it.”.
And it’s not likely to be good news for Chicago either. Early in his career, West ended up getting involved with a producer called Eric Miller – known in the house music world in the 90s as serial remixer E-Smoove. The two men’s relationship turned sour and ended up in court at least twice…