Anik Khan is a rapper who was born in Bangladesh and moved to Queens when he was four years old. "[My father] focused on Bengali poetry and Bengali poets. I grew up watching him give speeches. I started [rapping] because I would watch him do speeches and like, in my language we call them kobita and I would just watch him recite kobitas at home. Then I would have rap music when I would go outside on the block," Anik told Noisey.
Anik injects his raps with the Bengali music he grew up with, but he doesn't limit himself to that. Anik has as much pride in the diversity of Queens culture as he does in his immigrant upbringing, and he fuses together the various sounds he picked up on from living in Queens. "There’s West Indian, West African, Brazilian. There’s timbres of Bosnia in my stuff because I just got lucky and grew up in the most diverse place in the entire world," he said to NBC. Much of his 2015 debut I Don't Know Yet was about the immigrant experience, but this year's Kites is more about where he's at now. He told The FADER:
Kites is more about myself. It's is more of an immigrant story from a production standpoint. I really went in with what I wanted to do as a producer. Because obviously I produced every single record on that joint, and making sure I had Brazilian congos, making sure I had like classical music with strings in there, making sure I had the jazz infused with the West Indian rhythms. Making sure I had the Afropop, but blending it with Portuguese funk.
So from a production point, it was more an immigrant story, but from a lyrical standpoint, Kites is about what you love, the people who are important to you and how you deal with that shit. It’s just more about my life — a life that’s like very relatable to a lot of people in their 20s, figuring themselves out, figuring out their confusion, figuring out sad shit, figuring out when you’re happy, and how to get through all of that. What used to be important and what’s important now — what your priorities are.
Kites is a fascinating project, one where you can truly hear all of Anik's disparate influences coming together seamlessly. Listen for yourself below.
Anik plays his hometown pretty frequently. Maybe you caught him opening for Swet Shop Boys at Webster Hall in April, or at Zane Lowe's GovBall After Dark show with YG and Charli XCX earlier this month. He's got more shows coming up, including his first headlining show on July 18 at Rough Trade (tickets).
On August 6, he plays the Basement Bhangra 20th Anniversary at Central Park SummerStage with Apache Indian, Panjabi MC, DJ Rekha, Madame Gandhi, Horsepowar, Sikh Knowledge, J Petra and DJ Shilpa.
Lastly (for now), he opens for French rapper MHD at Playstation Theater on September 14. Tickets for that show go on sale Wednesday (6/21) at noon.