Rafiq Bhatia of Son Lux Seeks to Shatter Preconceptions on New Album

'Breaking English' LP will land on April 6 via ANTI-Records.
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New York composer and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia will release a new album, Breaking English, via ANTI-Records in April.

Bhati is an American composer, guitarist, and producer, who has recorded two solo albums Yes it Will (2012) and Strata (2012). He's the first-generation American son of Muslim immigrant parents who trace their ancestry to India by way of East Africa. Early influences such as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Madlib—as well as mentors and collaborators including Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart—prompted him to see music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective. In 2014 he joined Ryan Lott and Ian Chang as members of the band Son Lux, and he's also worked with musicians Olga Bell, Sam Dew, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Hart, Heems, Helado Negro, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Moses Sumney, and David Virelles.

“"Hoods Up" was the first track I started on Breaking English, and one of the last ones I finished,” explained Bhatia. “Years in the making, with multiple discarded versions littering the path to completion, the piece is the result of me trying to push myself beyond my limits. That required wading into uncharted territory, but it also meant accepting myself for who I am. I think the music carries some of the struggle of its creation with it.”

"I started sculpting "Hoods Up" in the wake of Trayvon Martin's senseless killing and the subsequent smear campaign against him: the systematic dehumanization of a young black teenager walking home in a hoodie. As I worked away at the song, escalating current events began to add layers of meaning to it. The white hoods from our country's past kept coming out of the woodwork, reminding us of the horrifying influence they continue to exert in the present."

Breaking English will land on April 6, with "Hoods Up" streaming in full above.