Artist of the Month / April : Anik Khan
Imagine twelve year old Anik Khan in his family apartment in Queens rapping/emulating the MC's he was listening to at the moment (Jay Z and Naz) when a family friend/ "Aunty" watched from the hallway, "Hey, you're pretty good." That was one of the first memories Anik had of soon to be many more moments that brought him to where he is today.
In high school a good friend of his gave him the music production software "Fruity Loops" and he kickstarted himself into making beats. Eventually that led to a mixtape which was passed around school that everyone fell in love with. They ended up performing their music at high school parties in the suburbs of Virginia. After creating a buzz and noticing that people liked it, he knew that music was not only a passion, but it would play a significant part of his life. Anik decided to forfeit the traditional desi career path (Doctor/Lawyer) and enrolled himself into music school.
How did your family react when you told them you were planning on becoming a Rapper?
"They hated it. It doesn't matter what you want- You don't leave everything you love, and then come to a country for your children to do better for your child to say "hey pop, I'm gonna rap"
Although Anik's family may not have been on board at first, their strong communication and his drive to create helped with them understanding. Khan explained that compared to many desi parents his family was pretty liberal and it didn't take long for his family to see that there was a future in music.
"I ended up bringing my parents to orientation at my University, and I just showed them, it's very possible to have a career in music. Even if it's not rapping, it could be music engineering or a variety of other "job jobs". After that, I realized I could talk to my parents about anything. It's important that we just try to communicate with our parents, we just need to do a little explaining and to show them and they'll have a better grasp on understanding"
How did you come up with the treatment for the "Habibi" Video?
"I wrote the treatment with my boy "Feeks Chowdhury." It was me just thinking about what I wanted to portray and pay homage to the real true habibis' that make up New York culture. The guy at the deli, the guy at the hookah bar filling your coals, the guy at the halal cart, the guy in the cab - that was me playing all those roles. I wanted to show that this habibi culture is really deep in New York. There's a strong black and brown connection. Everybody in the hood knows the word habibi and it’s cool as shit. This was the definition of who I am, you take the foreign aspects of myself and mix it with lower income housing and you get this person playing these roles."
Anik expressed that food plays a big part of his life so we asked him a little about it.
What's one of your favorite dishes you liked growing up?
"Bengali Biryani hands down. We don't get enough credit on our end. We cook the shit out of our food. There's a lot of distinct dishes that you don't see in Indian or Pakistani cusine. We'll like marinate meat for like 2 days. It's amazing. Another favorite dish would have to be my mother's curry chicken."
Are there any south-asian artist that you're personally listening to?
"There are so many. One rapper that I'm really digging right now is Shome. He's Bengali from Kolkata and grew up in New Orlean. He has a southern draw and he's fire, you should definitely check him out."
What TV shows are you watching?
"I watch a lot of travel food documentaries, that's how into food I am. There's this one show on Netflix called, "Ainsley Eats the Streets". It's about a guy that travels the world eating street food but its a man of color, he's black, but he's from London and his parents are West Indian so he's going to places that a white man probably won't go. Like he'll go to Barbados, but like going to the hood. He's going to places and eating food that is so much more interesting and not the usual locations you'd see on T.V.
I watch a lot of Anime too..."
What anime do you watch?
"The question is what anime do I not watch? Naruto Shippūden, Code Geass, Tenjou Tenge. Obviously, Attack on Titan, and I'm trying to get into Dragonball Super.
I'm an avid stand up watcher too."
Who are your favorite stand up comedians?
"Dave Chapelle is obviously the greatest. Jerry Seinfeld is up there for me, John Mulaney,
there are too many to count, Bill Burr, Hasan. There so many great comedians. "
Whats' next for Anik?
"I have a couple things up my sleeve, I'm working on some new music but I also want to continue the conversation with Kites. I'm definitely going to have new material coming, but I also want to make sure I give time for everyone to discover and appreciate Kites. I have a few shows coming up and I'm going to continue to curate and collaborating with companies outside of the music industry. There will be a lot happening in the near future and I'll be sure to keep you all posted with everything."
Habibi - Anik Khan (Music Video)