Steven Victor always has a plan. The veteran music executive and CEO of Victor Victor Worldwide has been calling the shots behind the scenes for over two decades, and currently oversees the work of an A-list collection of artists, including Pusha-T, the late Pop Smoke, and his latest collaborator NIGO.
When Victor visited fashion icon NIGO in Tokyo last year, their conversation naturally shifted towards music. NIGO, who founded A Bathing Ape, Billionaire Boys Club, Ice Cream, and Human Made, is the new artistic director of the French luxury fashion house Kenzo, but he also has deep ties with hip-hop, including a history of releasing mixtapes of his own and DJing with the Teriyaki Boyz. He hasn’t released music of his own in nearly two decades, but after their visit, Victor wanted to change that.
Speaking over the phone from an undisclosed location in Paris following NIGO’s Kenzo debut at Paris Fashion Week on Sunday, Victor says their initial meeting in Tokyo led to conversations about potentially putting together a new album. NIGO was apprehensive about making a whole album at first, suggesting that they should just do a two-song EP instead. But as time went on, the idea kept expanding, and eventually, I Know NIGO was born. It will be executive produced by Pharrell.
“Originally, it was supposed to be just Pharrell and maybe Pusha-T, but then I started reaching out to different people, and everyone was just like, ‘Yes!’” Victor explains. Now, I Know NIGO features appearances from Pharrell, Pusha-T, ASAP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, Kid Cudi, Lil Uzi Vert, and several others that have yet to be announced.
NIGO previewed select songs from the album during his 15-minute Kenzo debut in Paris on Sunday, where many high-profile artists were in attendance, including Kanye West, Gunna, Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell, and Pusha-T. “The energy in the building was great,” Victor says. “It’s NIGO’s first show, so it’s also special for him.”
That energy continued to the after party in Paris. Midway through our call, Victor gets cut off by a surprise guest.
“Hold on, someone wants to talk to you,” he says with a chuckle, as Pusha-T jumps on the phone. Like a mad genius, all he can talk about is his own upcoming project, which he says will be “the motherfucking album of the year.”
The rap world has been waiting for Push, who has released music sparingly since dropping his 2018 album, Daytona. On the call, he confirms that he’s heard our wishes, and that his new album will be well worth the wait.
Pusha-T—who borrowed a Jay-Z line from “Free Mason” and flipped it into a hook for his appearance on NIGO’s song “Shotta” from the album—says he wants to “reinvent his greatness” going into his next album, and plans to use it to usher in a new era for himself.
Pusha-T isn’t the only rapper in a new mode. From what we’ve heard thus far, I Know NIGO delivers a long-awaited reunion of ASAP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator, Kid Cudi crooning over Neptunes production, and Lil Uzi Vert spitting on an AXL drill beat. And that’s only from the few songs previewed during the Kenzo show.
With I Know NIGO set to release on March 25, 2022, and a single due Friday, Complex spoke with Victor about getting NIGO to release music again, gathering an impressive lineup of superstar features for the album, working on Kanye West’s Donda 2 in the interim, and much more. The interview, which features a surprise appearance from Pusha-T midway through, was lightly edited for clarity.