In 2009, when rapper Khan moved to Santa Cruz, he found a vibrant underground scene with cyphers, house parties, and well-attended shows. But it didn’t last, so he applied his skill with organizing events in the activist scene to help rebuild Santa Cruz underground hip-hop.
“I wasn’t seeing it growing. It was shrinking almost. That’s one of the reasons why I jumped into that game,” Khan says.
He’s put on shows at the Blue Lagoon and Moe’s Alley. But his bread and butter is his regular underground hip-hop showcase at the Crepe Place, “Diggin’ In The Crepe,” where he brings together the fractured scenes from Salinas, Hollister, Gilroy and Santa Cruz.
Meanwhile, he’s been working on his own music. He released his debut Strike Anywhere Mixtape in 2016. Last year, he released The Dead Kennedy Tape. It features a cover reminiscent of the iconic punk band, but the record is actually an ode to activist co-op Casa de Kennedy, where he and emcee Nexus (who collaborates on the record) used to live.
“It was a big influence on me and Nexus, learning how to spin turntables and things like that,” Khan says. “Then we all had to leave the house because it was getting sold underneath us—gentrification. That’s what inspired that album.”
On March 4, Khan releases his debut full length, Code Switching. It’s his most personal and diverse record—he works with multiple producers on this record instead of just one like on previous records.
“Code switching is basically when you change the way you communicate based on who you’re talking to. It’s been a huge part of my experience growing up. I’m a child of immigrant folks from Fiji,” Khan says.
He releases the record to a vibrant underground scene he had a big part in revitalizing.
“Things are growing here in Santa Cruz,” Khan says. “We’re starting to see it come back.”
INFO: 9pm. Friday, March 6, Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.