The multiculturalism of Anik Khan
March 27, 2019 · 2 Minute Read
In 2017, New York hip-hop artist Anik Khan said during a radio interview that he was amazed people knew his music, when he went out on a college tour to Minnesota. Fast forward to just over a year later, and Khan is over the moon about the fact that people in Mumbai can sing along to his newest hit “Big Fax”.
In an Instagram post showing gratitude for his India debut that took place across New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru in October, he said, “India was such a life changing trip. From the shows to the food to the bonds that we created, I learned a lot about myself and about how far this music thing can take. I was on the other side of the world and people knew my songs.”
As an artist who’s supported the likes of fellow South East Asian diaspora hip-hop group Swet Shop Boys (Heems and Riz MC), Anik Khan has been a voice (and now a gradual cultural figure) who represents his multicultural identity with conviction. Whether it’s his lyrics or the choice of instruments sampled over beats, or even his merchandise line, the Dhaka, Bangladesh-born rapper knows how to throw down. His latest song “Big Fax” alone is a solid introduction to Khan’s moxie, when he sings “Damn, it feels good to be an immigrant.”
The music video features a peep into the rapper’s world – from his friends of African, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian descent, among others. Khan describes himself in another interview as someone who can’t write until they live. He’d rather be somewhere and experience something that brings him to write about it. “I like to live a little and have something to say. I just needed to live for a while and now I have a bunch of shit to sing about,” Khan says.
The son of a Bangladeshi freedom fighter and poet, Khan can write charged-up, condemning lyrics about American immigration laws in songs like “Columbus,” and loving his Arabic and Yemeni neighbors in “Habibi.” And he still makes sure that it’s not all serious stuff. He mentions in another interview that he talks to people about food, jewelry, and fashion, which are certainly things that matter to him. In particular, the food part manifests itself not just because Khan is an ambassador for EEEEEATSCON Food Festival, but also because he is a fan of multi-ethnic food. It’s where the idea of doling out merchandise that also advertised his favorite food joints in his hometown of Queens stemmed from. If you’re up for wearing one of his threads, you’re also repping Trinciti Roti – a Trinidadian kitchen – and places like Mahmoud’s Corner, which is known for its Arabian food. He says about his connection to cuisine, “It’s a big part of who I am. When I was thinking about my merch, some people are into architecture, newest sneakers or shit like that. I’m into food, language, and culture.”
Where his beats might draw from West Indian beats, African drums, or even Brazilian percussion, it reflects in the crowd that turns up to his shows. Khan says, “My shows are a little different, because I speak for a wide array of people – Sudanese kids, Guyanese kids, Egyptian kids, enjoying themselves, and having someone to look up to.” He tips his hat towards the likes of Swet Shop Boys for taking music to a new space. “I think they’re doing their best to have these conversations around the world. It’s continuously growing.”
Following a successful introduction into the Indian gigging circuit, it’s likely that Khan will be back. And next time, there’ll likely be new tunes as well. He says, “I’m definitely making a lot of music and I do see more music coming out in the future – I just don’t know how as yet. If it’s an EP or singles or what, I’m just thinking about the music.”