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Anik Khan: ‘I’m Making American Music As A Brown Artist’

The Dhaka-born New York hip-hop artist talks about his latest single “Big Fax” and India plans

Anurag Tagat Sep 03, 2018

Queens, New York-based hip-hop artist Anik Khan. Photo: Imtiaz Choudhury

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Chances are, the first line you’ll grasp on New York hip-hop artist Anik Khan’s new song “Big Fax” is “Damn it feels good to be an immigrant.” But Khan being the gastronome he is, adds context: “When we order lunch it’s only chili shrimp.” The video shows Khan digging into his food in typical desi style – with hands, not cutlery.

For that impression-creating couplet, Khan explains that its origins lie on the one day he ordered chili shrimp during a recording session. “Before, all I did was eat ramen and shit but now I got a little bit of rap money, so I can afford chili shrimp for lunch, and get it sent to me,” Khan says with a laugh, over the phone from Queens. The feeling of affording that luxury alone brings a slice of the ethnic diversity that Khan – who has been a known name since 2015’s I Don’t Know Yet EP – celebrates in his music.

His follow-up EP Kites [2017] offered everything from Bollywood (he name checks actor Shah Rukh Khan on “Mango Nectar”) to dancehall, soul and hip-hop. For “Big Fax,” he made a rap-centric song, starting with a chorus that he took to New York “genre agnostic” producer duo MEMBA aka Ishaan Chaudhary and Will Curry. Unlike Kites and its concept-based approach to production and song structures, Khan says “Big Fax” was intended to be a little more stripped-down and “real bouncy.” He adds, “[The purpose was] to have focus more on the words and I’m rapping, It’s been a minute since I rap-rapped and talked my shit, you know?”

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He supported Kites with shows around the U.S., including an opening set for hip-hop trio Swet Shop Boys. “There was a sea of brown people and it was fucking beautiful. I’ve never seen shit like that,” Khan says. His own shows, however, bring in everyone – “Guyanese, Sudanese and Egyptian kids, enjoying themselves and having someone to look up to. I speak for a wide array of people.” There’s major references to Arab culture as well on “Big Fax,” while the music video includes a cameo from Indian singer-actor Monica Dogra (from electro duo Shaa’ir and Func).

Beyond the music, Khan – born in Dhaka and raised in Queens – shows off multicultural hues with his merchandise, which is unique to say the least. His latest line of T-shirts advertises his favorite restaurants – Trinciti Roti, Fatima’s and Mahmoud’s Corner. “I thought of the three flavors that make up my music – it’s Trinciti Roti, to represent the Caribbean flavor, then Fatima’s Chinese, which I sprinkle on [a] bit and Mahmoud’s Corner [Middle Eastern]. This is something I would wear. It involves my community, my food and my music. It made sense to me.”

Released via music platform Saavn’s Artist Originals series, “Big Fax” is Khan’s second single this year, after “Oh My” which came out in April. There’s more songs in the works, but the rapper says he likes to take his time. “I just needed to live for a while and now I have a bunch of shit to say.” With an India connect now established via Saavn, Khan says he’s staying updated with the desi hip-hop circuit in India and hopes to stop by soon enough. He adds, “I’ve only been to India once when I was 9 years old. I actually am planning to go now and I can’t wait to see how different it is and what the scene is like.”

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Watch the video for “Big Fax” below.

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