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Who Knows Nigo? Charting the Bathing Ape’s Secretive Musical Career

Welcome to the 56th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we uncover Nigo’s camouflaged sonic career, from the Tokyo Sex Pistols to his newest studio album release “I Know Nigo”.

Bape founder and cultural kingpin, Tomoaki Nagao (NIGO), has deep ties in just about every corner of fashion and art, with a lesser known influence in the world of music. Tracing back to his earliest days, the Japanese native became obsessed with the Americana aesthetic and developed a deep love for rock icons like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. In the late 80’s he became enchanted with Run D.M.C’s East Coast sound and Japan’s first hip-hop group, ‘Tiny Panx’ which was co-founded by Hiroshi Fujiwara.

The relationship between Fujiwara and Nigo would soon develop into a life-long friendship, partaking in multiple music endeavors such as their Sex Pistols parody band, ‘Tokyo Sex Pistols’. Members including Nigo, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Jun Takahashi, Nobuhiko Kitamura and Hikaru Iwanaga, the band would go on to release a single CD and visual accomplice, before Fujiwara began to establish the ‘Major Force’ record label.

Dabbling in the DJ street scene, Nigo went on to found Bape in 1993 and subsequently put his music career on hold. However, after two miniscule releases alongside James Lavelle of Mo’Wax Records, he would debut his first studio album ‘Ape Sounds’ in 1999. Shortly after, two other albums would be released under the new Ape Sounds label; “Shadows of The Ape Sounds” and “(B)ape Sounds”, also forming the Teriyaki Boyz collective in 2005.

2022 has been a year of exploration for Nagao, releasing his highly anticipated studio album, “I Know Nigo” on March 25th. Featuring industry heavy-hitters like Pharrel, A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator and more, production assists are found throughout amid a plethora of upbeat tempos and nostalgic flows. Intertwining chimes of today with roots of the past, the album reminds us of these artist’s rightful legacies.

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