Virgil Abloh’s cover art for rapper Pop Smoke’s posthumous album to be changed following backlash

The late rapper who was murdered in February specifically requested Abloh to design his debut album cover. (File/Instagram)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Virgil Abloh’s cover art for rapper Pop Smoke’s posthumous album to be changed following backlash

DUBAI: Off-White designer Virgil Abloh’s cover art for rapper Pop Smoke’s debut posthumous album ‘Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon’ is set to be changed following social media backlash. 

On Monday, American record music executive Steven Victor took to Instagram to unveil the cover artwork, revealing that the late rapper who was murdered in February specifically requested Abloh to design his debut album cover.

However, the  artwork immediately received backlash from fans, who took to social media to express their outrage. One fan even made an online petition calling for the album artwork to be revised. The petition accumulated over 14,000 signatures in five hours.

Following the complaints over the newly-unveiled cover, Victor wrote on Twitter that he would be “making a change” to the album artwork.

He also added that “Pop would listen to his fans.”




(Twitter)

Moments later, the music executive  took to Instagram to expand on his tweets. “As Pop’s label and as his friends/family, it is our obligation to bring his vision to life. He wanted Virgil to lead creative, we fulfilled his wishes however, unfortunately, he’s not here to give his final approval. His fans, are,” he said. 

“You know why you love Pop, your voices are loud and clear. He loved his fans and listened to his fans. Changes will be made. See you July 3rd 2020," he added.

Abloh, who has yet to respond to the outrage, wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post, “This album cover was one of like 5 things we talked about. He mentioned his story felt like the metaphor of a rose and thorns growing from the concrete of his hood in Canarsie, Brooklyn.” The designer also said that he “Just finished it yesterday,” though the album is scheduled  to drop in a couple of days. 

The Louis Vuitton Men’s creative director is also responsible for the album artwork for Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and Westside Gunn’s “Pray for Paris.”

Pop Smoke, who was born Bashar Barakah Jackson, was shot to death during a home invasion in Los Angeles on Feb. 19. He was 20-years-old.


How to travel post-COVID-19

Updated 07 July 2020

How to travel post-COVID-19

  • As borders begin to re-open in the Middle East and around the world, here is how to deal with traveling in a post-pandemic world

DUBAI: When it comes to the Middle East, July seems to be a marker. From Bahrain to Egypt, Morocco to Dubai, borders are tentatively opening, with plans to jumpstart tourism a sign of better days to come. But still, a question hangs heavy. Even if we are now allowed to travel, will the experience ever really be the same again?

From where you can go to how much it will cost, what you can do there to a fear of going in the first place, the very essence of travel stands on the precipice, and we are all at risk of a lesser life experience because of it.

For Dubai-based, Euronews Travel TV presenter Sarah Hedley-Hymers, the biggest repercussion is the resulting knowledge hit. “Traveling makes me hyper-attentive,” she said. “The newness of places stimulates all the senses. I’m like Bradley Cooper in the movie ‘Limitless,’ absorbing different destinations like a sponge, expanding with the knowledge of it all, energized by the novelty. Not traveling feels like a protracted comedown.”

But while COVID-19 may have grounded the first half of 2020, the green shoots of recovery are slowly creeping through the cracks. Tentatively, travel is once more an option, but if you are planning post-pandemic travel, preparation is paramount.


Where can I travel to?
June saw much of Europe slowly re-open its doors, albeit with entry generally restricted to EU nationals or returning residents. In the Middle East, July 1 saw airports open in Egypt and Lebanon, along with tourism facilities in Turkey. Dubai will welcome visitors from July 7, Morocco from July 11, and Bahrain hopes to re-open the King Fahd Causeway — and its border with Saudi Arabia — by the end of the month.

Tourists from around the world stepped foot in the UAE for the first time in nearly four months on July 7. Shutterstock

The re-openings are fluid, with plans changing daily. Best advice? Check carefully ahead of any trip. There is a good chance that restrictions will still apply, both with the country you are heading to and the one you are departing from.


Will air travel be more expensive post-COVID-19?
As fleets have lay grounded for months, the big fear was that airlines would have to charge extortionate fares in order to recoup losses. Thankfully, the opposite might be true.

“With regards to the cost of travel, views currently vary and it’s difficult to accurately predict airline strategies,” said Ciarán Kelly, managing director of the Middle East & Africa Network at FCM Travel Solutions. “But some people expect fares to stay low as airlines struggle to get customers back on board.


“Whether it’s a free checked bag on your flight, discount vouchers — as we’ve seen already from Etihad — free wifi or other incentives, airlines are going to have to do everything they can to get people back into the skies.


“Of course on the flip side, faced with huge losses to make up and potentially emptier planes, they could go the other way and raise ticket prices. But even if that happens, it’s also likely they’ll adopt more lenient change and cancelation policies, as has been seen over the last few weeks.”


What if I am scared to travel?
A perhaps unexpected repercussion of COVID-19 on travel is a fear of staying safe. A recent poll by Mower, an independent marketing, advertising and public relations agency in the US, found that only 16 percent of Americans would be comfortable flying again once restrictions were eased. For Reem Shaheen, counseling psychologist at Dubai’s Be Psychology Center, the key to allaying fear is preparation.
“Apart from concerns over the virus, the overwhelming worry at the moment is access. Most people are struggling to not only figure out a travel destination with open borders, but also if they’re able to return to their country of residency,” she said.

Most people are struggling to not only figure out a travel destination with open borders, but also if they’re able to return to their country of residency. Shutterstock


“I believe that the fuel of this fear lies in the feeling of helplessness. The best way to manage that is by gathering as much information as possible. This could be by knowing where the hospitals are, preparing for a safe return to your country of residence, or simply learning the protocols on social distancing of the country that you’re heading to. Working to gain control over situations within your power will help reduce the fear and anxiety triggered by traveling during the pandemic.”


When should I travel again?
While open borders might signify an invitation to travel, the reality is that things might take a little longer before the world is comfortable in transit once more. But while your travel experience might now be a little different, you would hope that the opportunity to embrace new experiences will once again prove too good to resist.

Travel equates to more than the sum of its parts, not just the act of being there but the attributes it brings. Patience, acceptance, kindness and curiosity — those are the traits that you pick up on the road, and without the ability to move freely, we are all missing out. Plus, as Hedley-Hymers said: “If nothing else, it’s always nice to find a corner of the world that doesn’t have a McDonald’s on it.”