Bengali-born, Queens-bred rapper Anik Khan has been steadily building a following throughout the summer, largely because Anik can flat-out rap and isn't afraid to challenge anyone. "This is the difference; I grew up in the hood," he told XXL. "So if I go to the cypher and they would push me away, I would just come back. It did not scare me because I grew up around that. I would just say, 'Fuck you, man, let me rap.' I would go in that, make sure I rap and prove to my friends that I am good, then they will be like, ‘You can keep going.’" He released his stellar debut project I Don’t Know Yet in late July and has been steadily at work ever since. Get to know Anik Khan on The Break.—Emmanuel C.M.

Name: Anik Khan

Age: 26

Hometown: Queens, New York

I grew up listening to: My first hip-hop tape was DMX’s It's Dark And Hell Is Hot. Then I listened to a lot of A.R. Rahman growing up, Gyptian, Mr. Vegas, Wayne Wonder; that was the reggae side. What's funny is I do remember the specific thing. I was 13 years old and I was just listening to Jay in the one room all of us lived in in the apartment building. I think I was just rapping “22 Two's.” I was just rapping, my headphones were on and then my aunt comes in and goes, "You are kind of good at that." This was like a Brown woman who knows nothing about hip-hop. I was like, "Aight, fuck it, maybe I’ll write some shit." Then I wrote something and here we are.

Queens affected it just because of the culture; whatever I saw outside I wanted to put in music. So if I saw a West African dude... I like pleasing people so I kind of do it with music. So if I see a West African dude and a Bosnian dude hanging out, I’m like, how the fuck do I make a song that would make both of them happy at the same time? And then I make it. So I put those influences in my music.

My style’s been compared to: I do not know, that is the question I do not know how to answer. I think I go in there, listen to music and like it and do whatever feels right. Obviously, I think the thing that is most evident is, culturally, I have a lot of different cultural influences in my music. So style-wise I think I mix genres a lot. If you listen to my songs I am pretty sure you will hear some genre blending regardless of if it is a super hip-hop beat. I will probably do some Patois and some shit on top of it. That is pretty much it. I do not necessarily know what I specifically do; I am heavy on the lyrics, the outwit man, I come from that nature. I say something and then three days later you get it. That gives me joy. I love those.

I do not think I have ever gotten anyone calling me anything. I mean, I am sure people will make their comparisons if I get to a point where, hopefully, a large amount of people are listening. That is the first thing people are going to do. Thus far, people have just liked the music.

Most people don’t know I: I really like anime a lot and I try as hard as I can to read a book a month. And it has not really happened the past couple months, but I am going to get back on it. Favorite anime? It is really popular and I do not care because the story line is amazing. Naruto Shippuden is like my favorite, hands down. But the best story plot I think I have ever seen is Code Geass, that shit was crazy. Or Gurren Lagann.

My standout records/moments to date have been:  Standout moment was this release party, seeing so many different types of people in there. The release party was more for me because I curated the whole thing; I wanted to represent a community more than myself. I invited eight different artists of South Asian descent; painters, filmmakers and graphic designers. I just brought out a bunch of different people and told them to present their pieces, because what I wanted to do was use this platform that I had been getting to make it bigger than myself, because South Asians have had this thing about them that you are their doctor or lawyer and that is it. Obviously, the immigrant lifestyles are, you move there, you follow that syllabus, you do what you do. But I wanted to show them that are so many of us that are doing more than that. So when you come to the I Don’t Know Yet Experience release, every piece had something tied in with one of my lyrics from the project, with one of my songs. I think that was my proudest moment because I had eight different people of eight different South Asian cultures—Bengalian, Pakistani alike—and they came out and presented their stuff. People were looking at art and then enjoyed some dope ass music at the end.

My goal in hip-hop is: I do not know. To help people, that’s the biggest goal. Obviously, I have been talking about culture the whole fucking day, so I would like to expand culture. I would like for this to be more. I do not want people to be like, "Oh, shit, Bengali rapper." No one says the Bengali plumber; he is either a good plumber or a bad plumber and I would like to be able to open the door for other artists such as myself to come in. So it is sort of a norm. Like, the Latin Americans are doing it in the space and they do not have that much. Hip-hop is so big. I just want the culture to catch up with that, that is one goal. But the biggest goal is just to help people. I am a simple dude; I just want to help as much as I can. I say it all the time: if I get money, I split money. That is the biggest goal. I would love to start an organization when I get to a point that I can to help immigrants who come to this country, give them a direction of how they can be helped and try to tell them that you do not have to go to your neighbor and work at Dunkin Donuts just because he told you to go work at Dunkin Donuts. You can go back to school, do this and these things and you can progress, just like every other culture. It is harder for them because they do not have a generation before them to guide them, so I would like to start something to help guide them. Really, the goal is to help people.

I’m gonna be the next: My dad, I just want to be my dad. My dad is a taxi cab driver, he has two Masters degrees and he drives a cab here and he still built roads, a bridge, a Mosque and a school back in his village. I want to do nothing else but be my dad. I don’t give a fuck about being the next anyone else but him. He’s my idol.

Follow Anik Khan on Twitter and check out his SoundCloud.

Standouts: I Don't Know Yet


"The Borough"

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