Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Al' Tariq - God Connections 2xLP + 7"


90s Tapes (2023, Reissue) 

 Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Before he was Al' Tariq he was known as Kool Fash and was part of The Beatnuts.  While I wasn't really familiar with The Beatnuts as a group back in the 90s, I was aware of them via their production involvement with several groups that I did listen to at the time.  I discovered the first Beatnuts full length many years later and was definitely a fan.  After that album originally came out, Kool Fash left the group and changed his name to Al' Tariq.  

God Connections is Al' Tariq's debut album and it originally came out in 1996, which is way past my typical hip hop expiration date of 1994.  What I've learned over the years is that for the most part, I'm right - the vast, vast majority of rap that came out after 1994 is pretty terrible.  But I've also learned that a blanket statement like that just cannot apply to everyone.  I have found some post-94 jewels over the last few years, and God Connections is one of them.

It's not a a perfect record by any means and I do with that the production was a little more upbeat and dirtier, for a lack of a better word to describe it.  Things are pretty polished and you'll never mistake it for something that came out in that 88-94 golden era.  That said, it is still quite good.  The beats do still hit relatively hard and the bass, while smooth, still thumps.  Lyrically, Al' Tariq is great and he's the main reason the album's highs get as high as they do.  As good as he was on Beatnuts' records, he' elevated his game further and spins killer stories on each track.

God Connections may not be an essential record that everyone needs to own, but if you are like me and are hunting for records outside of your comfort zone that can really hang with golden era classics, you could certainly do worse than Al' Tariq's debut.  It's definitely worth checking out.

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