This article was published on December 22, 2021 and updated on March 25, 2022.
NIGO's already got a busy 2022 ahead of him. Alongside his debut KENZO collection, ongoing Human Made projects, and various creative endeavors, the Japanese designer is returning to music with I KNOW NIGO, his first new album in nearly 20 years, which is dropping soon (on CD, even).
To be released March 25 on Victor Victor — label founder Steven Victor is a longtime NIGO devotee — I KNOW NIGO is stacked with features befitting its communal title.
Unsurprisingly, Pharrell, NIGO's BFF, is on the record, accompanied by A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Tyler, the Creator, Pusha T, and the TERIYAKI BOYZ, the formerly defunct Japanese hip-hop collective that NIGO founded and produced in the mid-'00s.
NIGO's music career is nearly as storied as his streetwear legacy. The 50-year-old got his start DJing alongside his mentor, Hiroshi Fujiwara, in the '90s, introducing Japanese youth culture to Western underground music.
Throughout the late '90s and early '00s, NIGO continued to issue singles and remixes.
However, NIGO continued producing music for years to come, curating compilations and producing music for the TERIYAKI BOYZ and BILLIE IDLE, a punkish idol group that NIGO founded and managed until they broke up in 2019.
NIGO first teased his new record, I KNOW NIGO, in a now-deleted Instagram post from February 2021. Wearing a custom Victor Victor varsity jacket, NIGO was photographed in front of a mixing board and teased that his new album was "coming soon."
His new record will be published by Victor Victor and Universal Music Group, which announced that it had signed NIGO around the time that he first teased the album.
Despite the publicity and teasers, NIGO hasn't offered a hint at what we can expect I KNOW NIGO to actually sound like. Given his past work, it'd seem likely that NIGO would again channel a trip-hoppy, classic hip-hop sound.
But that was nearly twenty years ago, remember. Plus, seeing Ed Banger and other producers in the studio with NIGO makes me think that I KNOW NIGO will sound much more contemporary.
Then, in late January, NIGO teased I KNOW NIGO's first single, "Arya," with a short clip showing the Human Made founder flexing giant chains with A$AP Rocky.
On January 28, "Arya" debuted on YouTube demonstrating both NIGO's shift towards trap-leaning production and Rocky's playful, twisting flow.
Released on February 18, I KNOW NIGO's second single, "Want It Bad," brought on longtime NIGO pal Kid Cudi for a bit of moody introspection over a driving beat.
NIGO again demonstrates a shift toward trap-y production, indicating that his trip-hop days are long past.
Next up, "Hear Me Clearly," a single driven by sampling pageantry and a snappy verse from Pusha T.
In presumably the penultimate I KNOW NIGO single, the TERIYAKI BOYZ reunite in a bouncy Pharrell-produced single.
The album's full tracklist was revealed on March 22, debuting previously unheard tracks like a 2019 freestyle with I KNOW NIGO creative director A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator and "Paper Plates" with A$AP Ferg.
The I KNOW NIGO train continued rolling with NIGO and Pusha T's "Hear Me Clearly" music video, released on March 30.