While the name may not ring a bell right away, the voice and the face most definitely will. Many of you will recall Al Tariq as Fashion, better known as 1/3 of the “World Famous Trio”, The Beatnuts (who seemed to lose a bit of steam following Kool Ass Fash’s departure). To say that the Beatnuts came off as ignorant, obnoxious assholes on their first two releases-”Intoxicated Demons” and “The Beatnuts” (or if you wanna’ call it “Street Level”)-would be quite an understatement. Corona, Queens’ kings of sexist, gun-toting, beer-guzzling rhymes were out to insult from the opening scratches of their initial ode to “gun-clappin” “Reign Of The Tec”. By the same token, to say that their music wasn’t the freshest shit on earth would also be a bold-faced lie. Despite their limited scope, the inspired production of Psycho Les and Juju coupled with the lyrical excursions of “cool-ass Fash’” were, as Positive K may have put it…a “good combination”. Of course, good things don’t last forever, and the group parted ways when Fashion found Islam, changed his name to Al Tariq and went for dolo. While one might have imagined that his adopted faith would preclude the agenda of over-the-top braggadocio and descriptions of sexual escapades we grew to expect from Fash’, “God Connections” more or less picked up the rowdiness from where the World Famous trio’ self-titled full length left off.
Following in the Beatnut tradition of piecing together funky, somewhat obscure breaks and transforming them into addictive underground tracks, Al Tariq showcased this winning formula from the opening moments of “God Connections” first track, “Crime Pays”. The deep basslines accompanied by an ill guitar loop proved to be a certified B-Boy smash. “Think Not’s” melancholy guitar strums and freaky tales from on tour, responded to the happy globetrotting of “Props Over Here” with a realistic refrain, while the album’s first single “Do Ya’ Thang” had Al very capably doing just what the titled conveyed from every believable sex position. But despite Al’s crew catching wreck on the freestyled “Spectacular”, the luster from a track like “Peace Akki”-which had the reunited Beatnuts flowing like Boone’s Farm over underwater wah-wahs-couldn’t help but outshine the majority of the LP’s remaining solo material. Crate-dug interludes and even production contributions from Al’s compatriots constituted a sincere effort at emulating the Nuts’ magic of the past. But lyrically and musically filler tracks like “Sexy La” (even though the production on the joint is SLAMMIN’), “No Question” (another dope beat by No I.D., who you’ll see later this week) and “Get Down Baby” didn’t really have enough impact to either get you open or offend you, one pitfall the trio of Corona kids always seemingly managed to avoid.
True to typical Beatnuts-form, “God Connections” packed a handful of tracks that involved the tried and true topic of women, but not in the typical form of “I love you, let’s stay together” fashion, but more in a storytelling type of way. With next to no filler, the majority of the tracks featured on “God Connections” are pure heat for any authentic underground head. The album more than sufficed in providing the true heads with raw, straight to the core, no frillz Hip Hop. Al Tariq’s debut solo album also introduced us to a few notable, prevalent underground emcees such as Blaq Attaq, Problemz and the Rawcotics who would later go on to make a few waves on their own. As far as making a name for himself as a solo artist, one would say that “God Connections” didn’t really earn Tariq many more fans than he had as an integral part of the already established Beatnuts. Islamic axioms notwithstanding, with “God Connections” the most memorable lesson was that three was still the magic number. Unfortunately, rather than a second solo venture “God Connections” found itself on more than it’s fair share of “Most Slept On” lists.
“Do Ya’ Thing”