Nigo makes grand return to music with star-studded sophomore album ‘I Know NIGO!’
‘I Know NIGO’…Fashion designer and Teriyaki Boyz DJ Nigo’s new collaborative album is relaying a statement beneath the crisp production and sampling by Pharrell and a bevy of others. Following his debut KENZO collection, as well as varied projects with Human Made, the fashion and music mogul’s sophomore album ‘I Know NIGO!’ dropped last week, stacked with features benefitting its communal title. Releasing under Steven Victor’s Universal-owned record label Victor Victor, it stands as his second musical output after his first album ‘Ape Sounds’ came out over two decades ago, which differs entirely in sound and scale.
With lead singles featuring A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Lil Uzi Vert and even Japanese hip-hop group Teriyaki Boyz, it was clear that the 25th March would bring an eclectic album like no other, infusing various eras of hip-hop, R&B, drill, and pop elements, fine-tuned to Nigo’s specific taste. Other snippets of songs starring the late Pop Smoke, Pharrell, A$AP Ferg and Tyler the Creator, were previewed during his F/W ’22 KENZO show at Paris Fashion Week in January, giving us a glimpse of just how extensive the feature list would be.
‘Lost & Found’ by WANG$AP starts things off with A$AP Rocky on top of a sampled beat from ‘Three Kings’ by Slim Thug, prior to switching up into a sample of ‘Like a Boss’ for Tyler, The Creator to spit some signature braggadocio over. Track three, ‘Punch Bowl’, sees the return of legendary 90’s hip-hop duo Clipse, who folded just prior to member Pusha T’s solo career took off in 2010. Here, they reflect on their careers and touch on life as parents, “It’s baby seats back of the Cullinans”. The song ‘Remember’ by Pop Smoke has a clever sample flip of ‘Sound of a Woman’ by Kiesza, serving as the foundation for late New York rapper’s vocals. This is arguably one of his best posthumously released songs to date. Other standouts are Tyler, the Creator’s ‘Come On, Let’s Go’, which would fit perfectly on his recent rap-heavy album Call Me If You Get Lost, Pusha-T’s ‘Hear Me Clearly’ produced by Ye and ‘Arya’ by A$AP Rocky.
The eleven-track record isn’t without its faults, however. ‘Functional Addict’ by Pharrell, featuring Gunna is simultaneously strange and boring, and the guest feature brings absolutely nothing to the table. The Kid Cudi and Teriyaki Boyz songs aren’t bad, but they stick out like sore thumbs in the track list, sounding like extras they had left lying in vaults rather than tracks that were actually conceived in the framework of a collaborative project. ‘Paper Planes’, whilst having a punchy 808 melody and catchy hook from Pharrell is let down hugely by three lacklustre verses from A$AP Ferg, with weird one-liners like “God, I’m sicker than syphilis” scattered throughout.
Interestingly, the CD release of ‘I Know NIGO!’ has been promoted massively by Victor Victor, with the CD pre-order bundles selling out in their thousands on his site. This is possibly a nod to Nigo’s home country Japan, whose people consume 70% of their music via CDs, with streaming services only accounting for 20% of music sales, much opposed to Western countries who over time have gradually abandoned the physical disc for streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer etc.
Overall, I Know NIGO! is a fun mixtape-Esque DJ compilation album that isn’t much more than that. “Fun” normally isn’t the best way to describe an album but that is all this really is and that’s fine for what this album is trying to be. ‘I Know NIGO’ is a collection of tracks that express Nigo’s prominence in Hip-Hop culture as he curates a soundtrack that delivers on the message: “I Know Nigo,” even when some songs don’t land.
Cover image via Sneaker Spirit