Exploring the sights and sounds of ComplexCon 2022 in Long Beach, California last weekend (Nov. 19-20), OGM contributor Dana Aufiero tells you what you missed in real-time — most notably NIGO, Clipse and Lil Uzi Vert’s show-stopping performances.
After two days of exploring the world’s largest streetwear hub, attendees prepare themselves for a performance of the names that birthed the culture as we know it. If you were lucky enough, you might have caught a glimpse of the most complex man himself — and if you weren’t, you still got to witness Lil Uzi Vert rock the stage three times in a row.
NIGO’s A Bathing Ape was the first streetwear brand to blur the lines between hip-hop and fashion: a brand responsible for birth of hypebeast culture alongside Supreme. After Teriyaki Boyz “Tokyo Drift” dominated charts with its catchy tubular jingle, the producer continued to gain more notoriety — making friends with Pusha T and A$AP Rocky along the way. Twenty years later, the love story of BAPE and hip-hop continues…
NIGO reunites BAPE wearers and close friends on his second studio album, “I KNOW NIGO!” featuring Teriyaki Boyz, A$AP Rocky, Clipse, Pop Smoke and more. While ComplexCon was NIGO’s first live performance, each set felt like an intimate reunion with the crowd-pleasing deejay. With the help of Verdy’s Complex Con direction, NIGO would cap off the two-day convention with a long-awaited performance that gives a proper introduction to the excellence of the fashion mogul.
King Push opens with hit single, “Diet Coke” while dripped in dazzling Billionaire Boys Club burger tee and diamond dancing chain around his neck. “Brambleton” bars reignite The Godfather-Push status, a perfect segue to “Hear Me Clearly,” from this year’s album, It’s Almost Dry. Yet all hell and fury broke loose when Clipse reunited on the stage. No Malice revives a bad boy past with the coke rap king. The rattling bass and thunderous claps of “Grindin” shakes the Long Beach stadium; The Neptunes beat reconciles with the duo’s boisterous rhymes to celebrate “20 Years of Lord Willin.”
As the crowd bops to the high trills of “What Happened to That Boy” Push stands back-to-back with Malice, reviving their Virginia adolescence. Although the duo’s decade-long reconciliation first occurred at Pharell’s Something in the Water Festival, the Complex Con debut was Clipse’s proper homecoming. Whether in tune with Lord Willin’s holy grail status or not, every attendee could sense the gravity of this performance.
From the old-school to the new, NIGO effortlessly transitions to the legends of a new era when he welcomes Kodak Black. Kodak brings the noise with “Skrilla,” leaning back with a ghoulish grin: the stadium continues to shake. In Murakami-style puffer, the Florida rapper bops playfully to “Super Gremlin,” yet runs back the track for a quick reprise to remind the crowd how to “slide.” Kodak’s short dance tutorial prepares the audience for the ultimate dance battle of the decade…
Uzi makes an entrance “XO Tour Lif3” with Michael Jackson-inspired Jheri curls and retro flip-up glasses. After reminding the crowd of his acclaimed rockstar status since Luv is Rage 2, he tells his audience that he can “never go out of style.” The jersey-club beat marches in and the stadium rattles with bass to the maximum level. Lil Uzi Vert debuts his viral “Just Wanna Rock” dance moves live for the first time, bringing the Gibson Hazard-shot visual to life. As lightning strikes down from the Imax screen, Uzi strikes a pose on every downbeat; He exits abruptly after the track replays for the third time. The audience demands more, but will probably have to wait until the release of the long-awaited PINK Tape.
In a short two hours, NIGO captured the essence of each headliner’s glory: spotlighting their stylish flare and musical influence through an established comradery.