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The other NIGO: the musical career of the founder of BAPE

"I Know Nigo", the new album with Tyler The Creator, Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams

The other NIGO: the musical career of the founder of BAPE I Know Nigo, the new album with Tyler The Creator, Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams

According to the definition of W. David Marx, who wrote a book on the subject, the term Amethora refers to “something traditional American. It is a definition born in the 1980s in Japan, which initially referred only to the elite clothing of the American east coast. A preserved Ivy style and English style. Over the years, however, any type of clothing produced in Japan with classic American inspirations becomes Ametora. And therefore also surfing or hip hop style". It is impossible not to associate the term Ametora with one of the founding fathers of Japanese (and American) streetwear, the number two, as per the nickname that then conquered the world: Nigo.

The United States and hip hop culture deeply influence the work of Nigo, who finds the perfect ground for the explosion of BAPE precisely in the rap culture of the mid-90s and before the 00s. From Notorious BIG to the Beastie Boys, obviously passing through Kanye West, BAPE has shaped the hip hop aesthetic to become “Chanel of my generation”, as Virgil Abloh once said. "For me, Nigo was as important in hip hop as Pharrell or Slick Rick or Kanye", ASAP Rocky once told Complex. Such a great influence - and such boundless love - for hip hop by such a creative person, however, could not be sought in the aesthetic sphere. That's why NIGO started producing music and working as a DJ.


NIGO has recently announced I Know Nigo, his new music album, which will feature Tyler The Creator, Kid Cudi, Rocky and of course Pharrell Williams among others. An electrifying end-of-year novelty for all fans of the designer - who some would like to lead Louis Vuitton in the near future - for a project that promises to interest the world of music and streetwear in equal measure. But if we talk about NIGO's "new" musical album and not "first" it is because, even if in a less striking way, NIGO has already made not one but two discs, as well as having collaborated on the debut of Teriyaki Boyz, a hip band Japanese hop of which NIGO was the DJ who in 2005 released his debut album "Beef or Chicken", produced by Def Jam and featuring Daft Punk, DJ Shadow and, of course, the Neptunes. Teriyaki Boyz themselves will produce songs for the Need for Speed: Tokyo Drift soundtrack the following year as well as a single in collaboration with Kanye West.

But not even the one with Teriyaki Boyz was NIGO's first musical experience. In fact, between 1999 and 2000, while BAPE made its way to become a cult brand, NIGO released Ape Sounds, a record that is affected by all the youthful influences of NIGO: from the Japanese tradition, to the passion for rock and electronic up to more traditionally hip hop beats. Reviewing the New Yorker record much later, Matthew Trammell wrote, "What thrilled me was not just the confidence and ambition of the material — the punk rag-doll of 'Jet Set' or the Beatles wink. of "A Simple Song" —but how prescient Nigo's music sounded. His tracks "Monster" and "Freediving" almost anticipate N.E.R.D. the shy pop-rock style of "Too Much", which will debut two years later, and the sunny fuzz of "Too Much" herald the bright tones of Kid Cudi". The only two reviews available online from that period, by Entertainment Weekly and the Guardian, read "this moonlighter should quit his real job maybe" and "it's nice to listen to an album whose experiments are worth playing more and more. many times". Although it was not a perfect record - and NIGO did not yet have that superstar rank that could lead to the spread of his work - his musical career is far from that of a tourist (to use an expression dear to his friend Virgil Abloh), but rather that of a purist. Ape Sound was studied in detail, including a cover art and a packaging created by NIGO himself in collaboration with Futura, using some references and patterns that will later become BAPE icons.

Over the years, NIGO will continue to produce music: the year following the release of Ape Sounds it will release Shadow of the Ape Sounds with the illustrious features of Rakim and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. In 2005 it will be the turn of The Returns of the Ape Sounds, a record with a more blatantly hip hop aesthetic and which fully reflects the canons of what, in the meantime, BAPE had become: one of the most influential brands in the history of hip hop.