By Cole Allen, Apr. 12, 2022
Japanese producer and fashion mogul, Nigo, has dropped his second studio album on March 25, “I Know NIGO!”. With a stacked feature list including many of rap’s biggest artists, “I Know NIGO!” is one of the most entertaining albums released in a while.
Nigo started his career as the producer and DJ for the Japanese rap group Teriyaki Boyz. The group is famous internationally for their song “Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious),” and the globally renowned beat was produced by Nigo.
During his 20-year hiatus, Nigo cemented himself as fashion royalty. He created one of the most successful streetwear brands of all time, Bape, and through this, he developed a relationship with artist Pharrell Williams, who is the executive producer of “I Know NIGO!”
“I Know NIGO!” doesn’t feel like an album either, more like a collection of songs curated by Nigo. The project has a playful feel to it with most songs, especially over Williams’ production, have artists experimenting vocally.
The album opens with “Lost and Found Freestyle 2019,” a track featuring A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator, a pairing rap fans have longed to hear more from since their song “Potato Salad” back in 2018. The two deliver again on their comeback track, each rapping on a different beat that also compliments each of their distinct voices perfectly.
This project experiments quite a bit, with unique production from Williams, much different than the normal in hip-hop. Featuring artists who typically perform in a different style or subsection of the overarching genre is what makes this album so perfect.
On the track “Arya” with A$AP Rocky, a soft and subtle piano begins the song, and even when the beat does drop, it still stays very light and soothing. With one of the best flows in contemporary rap, A$AP Rocky delivers exactly what he was supposed to, a standout track on the more mellow side.
The album sees the return of rap duo Clipse, their second time reuniting musically since 2010, on a Williams beat, their main producer during the group’s career and the one who encouraged them to form said group. The reunion isn’t disappointing in the slightest either. With a beautiful beat produced by The Neptunes, a duo consisting of Williams and Chad Hugo, the verses from Pusha T and No Malice fit right in, and sound as if they never left.
Williams is a shining star on the album. “Functional Addict,” featuring Gunna, and “Paper Plates,” with A$AP Ferg, are both tracks where Williams features both as a vocalist and producer. The songs display two very different and unconventional rap instrumentals, still with a bounce that will make you want to move. Pharrell uses an interesting high-pitched voice for the hook on “Paper Plates,” a questionable choice for some, but in contrast to A$AP Ferg’s strong delivery and hard-hitting drums, the song comes together beautifully.
What makes this project so enjoyable is the experimentation with artists, bringing them to instrumentals not typically used in their discography. “Want It Bad” with Kid Cudi, one of hip-hop’s favorite vocalists, graces an electronic dance inspired beat. Another song, “Heavy” with Lil Uzi Vert, is his first time rapping on a New York drill beat, a genre of hip-hop made famous by late rapper Pop Smoke, who also features on the album.
Lastly, the closer “Come On, Let’s Go” with Tyler, the Creator, was the perfect ending to an already memorable album. Tyler, the Creator, self produces this track with the help of Williams, and as a result developed one of his best songs yet. The song has several moments of buildup and takeaway with an insane beat drop and an infectious flow from Tyler.
Coming back from his over 20-year hiatus from music, Nigo definitely makes no shortcomings with “I Know NIGO!” With an incredible rollout and album, Nigo delivered an entertaining and fresh project, perfect for the summer months.
Feature image courtesy of Sharon Wu
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