Hip-hop purists and iconoclasts alike can rejoice today, as BAPE founder and cultural paragon Nigo returns this week with his long-awaited compilation album I Know NIGO!. Like the LP title indicates, the almost-dozen tracks delivered to us today are all distinctly rarified – each one a perfectly-polished love letter to hip-hop’s cultural canon and limitless future. Partially previewed at Nigo’s A/W ’22 debut, I Know NIGO! features performances from artists like Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, and Clipse – as well as production from Pharrell, Hector Delgado, Chad Hugo, Carter Lang, Cubeatz, and more.
It’s nearly impossible to select standout moments from I Know NIGO! because every track is like that one song on a record where you think “Wow, I can’t believe X assembled these artists together like that”. Though most hip-hop stans might gravitate towards the two cuts involving Tyler, the Creator (“Come On, Let’s Go” and the Slim Thug-homage “Lost and Found Freestyle 2019”), I can’t hide my excitement surrounding the fact that Nigo gave us a Pharrell-produced Teriyaki Boyz banger in 2022. No matter where your affinities lie, every guest on this record refuses to hold back on what might be the best compilation album since Saturday Night Fever. From A$AP Ferg appearing on “Paper Plates” (a refined version of a track that unfortunately leaked what feels like forever ago), to the hypnotic woodwinds on album single “Hear Me Clearly” that Pusha T uses as foundation to deliver the verse of his career – I Know NIGO!‘s dedication to giving the genre’s modern stars their flowers deserves to be studied at the highest academic level possible.
Whether or not this is your first introduction to these artists, or you’re one of hip-hop’s most devoted listeners and scholars, I Know NIGO! stands as one of the strongest hip-hop releases in recent memory. Though many genres frequently see their icons spoiling with age, Nigo flips this trope on its head by proving that hip-hop artists not only flourish with age, but they can also run with the new players as well.