Anik Khan is seeing his hard work pay off. Six years ago, the Queens-based “rapper next door,” gave himself a year and a half to essentially make it or break it in the music business. Although he had some big successes in that time, “things didn’t start really being steady until last year,” he confided recently during his photo shoot for Cool America Magazine.
Not only are things steady, but over the last year Anik has witnessed his career breakout: His debut album, Kites, available now, is making waves and garnering good reviews, his Spotify artist page has over 160,000 monthly listeners, and he is on a national tour opening for Jidenna.
I caught up with the effusive 28 year-old Anik on break from national tour, the eve before he was to perform at SummerStage in New York City’s Central Park. As we spoke, I was struck by how grateful he was for his success and family and how excited he was about sharing his music with a broader audience.
Leif: Tell me about Anik Khan.
Anik: I rap. I produce. I’m an artist. I’m the rapper next door. I’m super regular.
Leif: What impact would you like to have on the world with your music?
Anik: The immigrant story is super real. You come here, you know nothing about anything. That might bring a lot of self-consciousness, doubt, fear. Learning how to overcome that, find yourself, find your own and find your balance. If I can leave something like that for people, that’s all I really expect, honestly.
Leif: Talk to me about Kites.
Anik: Kites is a metaphor for me personally. Five years ago, I thought the kite was the most important thing, it’s a beautiful thing in the air that everybody’s paying attention to. The more I grew up, the more I realized, it’s not about the kite, it’s about the people staring, waiting for the kite when it falls. That’s the metaphor behind it.
Leif: And the people holding you up is your family and particularly your father, who you’ve spoken about as your hero.
Anik: My father is [my hero]. He had a 3 floor house, a driver, owned 4 businesses [in Bangladesh, and] had a master’s degree, left all that to come here, live in lower income housing, drive a cab, just so his children could have a better future. To me, that’s the definition of unconditional love.
Leif: Has your family always been supportive of your music?
Anik: No. [laughs] Absolutely not. It’s not even like an immigrant thing, it’s like, your parents leave everything and they move here, and [they’re] like: ‘So I move here, bring you to school, and you want to be a fucking rapper?’ Since they’ve started supporting me, my cot has gotten bigger, and things like that, it’s just now my dad will call people and say, my son’s doing this. He’s singing this. He’s going to be at Central Park. He’s proud.
Leif: Tell me about Khanfidence.
Anik: Khanfidence is about having the confidence no matter what you’re going to do, when the odds are against you, having the confidence to be able to keep going, to do it. That’s what it took for me to be at this point.
Leif: Who are some of your influences now?
Anik: Bob Marley is a huge influence on me, not just music but as a person, what he’s done for his culture [and] his country. I’m influenced by a lot of Afro-beat music. Fela, Davido, WizKid, Damian Marley, Khan-X and going back to my Bengali and South Asian roots A. R. Rahman.
Leif: What advice do you have for someone who is considering a career in music?
Anik: My best advice would be, don’t stop. There’s no formula, there’s no rule. That’s what I’ve learned, in the past 10 years I’ve been doing this, that there’s literally no formula to this, everybody has their own. But what’s most important is that you stay persistent.
Leif: What are you working on next?
Anik: I’m on tour with Jidenna. It’s my first nationwide tour, so I’ve never experienced something like this before. When I come back, I have a lot more stuff with Kites. Music videos. I really really love this body of work, and I’m going to keep presenting it out to people. I’m doing festivals, Philadelphia and Chicago I think. I have a show booked each month up until November.
Leif: That all sounds amazing. Where can people stay in touch and find out more?
Anik: My socials. Facebook: Anik Khan. Twitter and Instagram: @anikkhan_