I went down the rabbit hole, last week. You know, the one where you start off looking for/reading/watching one thing, and then 12 clicks later you’re somewhere completely different and unrelated.
This time, the deep dive had me watching The Cosign by Genius on YouTube. It a series of music webisodes where industry veterans watch and review some of the latest upcoming artists awarding the best one their official cosign. This episode featured Bronx rapper Fat Joe as he watched the new crop of talent out of New York. That’s when I was first introduced to Anik Khan.
The 31-year old Bengali-American Hip-hop artist hails straight out of Queens with his unique blend of South Asian and Hip-hop music. Or as his Facebook page reads “curry chicken meets collard greens.” Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Khan moved to the US when he was four years old and cities the day parties he used to attend, where he met a lot of West Indian people, as another influence in his music, as well as fellow Queens native Nas.
To date Khan has released two EP, one called Kites, back in 2017. Ever a testament to musical fusion, songs like Don’t Behave showcase a dance fuelled track that pays homage to clear African influences. While songs like Tides, feels like throwback to Lumidee’s 2003 hit, Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh), which in itself uses the same instrumental Dirt McGirt and Nicole Wray’s single Welcome Home. You can’t overlook the down tempo classic hip-hop vibes in songs like Mango Nuclear.
Habibi is a celebration of immigrant culture, specifically Yemeni culture, reflecting those who run the local bodegas in Queens. Columbus, named after Christopher Columbus, is the outro to the album, and was released as a single in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. All of this is wrapped up with Bengali poetry, ending the EP, paying homage to Khan’s Bengali heritage. It a truly accomplished piece of work, it manages to experiment and feel like home at the same time.
My personal favourite, however, is the standalone 2018 single Big Fax. This classic hip-hop banger is a roaring declaration of Khan’s pride in being brown, an immigrant and generally living his best life. It features such lyrics as:
Damn it feels good to be an immigrant
When we order lunch it’s only chili shrimp
Mixing up masala with the militant
Shooters on dial but the smile very innocent
Currently on tour across North America, Khan is hard at work on the road, but we’ll be watching for when hits London!