Queens rapper, Anik Khan, thinks it's about time that we flipped the script on outdated immigrant stereotypes.
"Every time you see a brown man depicted on TV, he's either a deli clerk, cab driver, or some goofball with an accent. No culture or race is one in the same. I happen to be a son of a freedom fighter," Khan recounts. The son of two Bengali parents who moved to Astoria when Khan was 4 years old, the rapper has become a vocal proponent of immigrant pride in his music.
His latest single, "Big Fax," is the follow-up to his 2017 critically-acclaimed Kites EP. A raucous, swagger-filled track, "Big Fax" has less to do with outdated modes of communication than it does with outdated ways of thinking. In the video for the song, Khan puts his South Asian heritage in a new context taking typical hip-hop and giving them a personal twist, "I'm a self-made boss that's being protected by women, the same way I was raised. I'm also infusing subtle messages about how we treat refugees with the literal branding above my eyebrow. The video has hijabis with AK's, sports cars AND rickshaws, and black and brown people flourishing and living their best life. That's my New York City, that's my truth."
The video for "Big Fax" may superficially be a macho display of played out rap video conventions but Khan uses that pre-existing narrative to his advantage. In a current political climate that is needlessly hostile to immigrants and people of color, Khan's insertion of his own culture achieves an empowering affect, not unlike the recent box office success of movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther.
Watch the PAPER premiere of the official music video for "Big Fax" below and catch Khan performing this Saturday, August 25th at MoMA PS1.
Photography: Imtiaz Choudhury