Three words usually come to mind when you think of the words Atlanta and Hip-Hop: dirty, crunk, and Freaknic. But while southern drawls, players, and Cadillac’s may on the surface identify the region’s music scene; it is by no means all that it has to offer. Search hard enough and you’ll find some True School Boom-Bap served up Southern-style by the likes of the Cunninglynguists, the Micranots, and the topic of today’s lesson, Tariq L. A member of The Hemisphere crew, Tariq’s debut solo LP follows in the footsteps of Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor and BBE’s Beat Generation series – production-driven with a varied cast of vocalists complementing the beats. Although he won’t be confused with The Chocolate Boy Wonder anytime soon, Tariq’s deep, Earthy compositions do put him on the list of up-and-comers to keep an eye on.
Hardly a new jack despite his relative anonymity (even in underground circles), Beatz In My Lifetime Volume 1.0 can technically be considered a sophomore effort in light of Tariq’s involvement in the well-received albeit slept-on Performing Artz LP (released under The Hemisphere name with partners U-George and DJ Doc in 2001). Like that album, Beatz also feels collaborative in nature, with guests spanning several art-forms including spoken word (Jessica Care Moore), R & B (Imani Uzuri), and, of course, straight Hip-Hop. Tying these divergent styles together are Tariq’s beats, either directly backing the featured artists or as interludes bridging their contributions together. While it gives the album a more cohesive feel, that uniformity also diminishes the impact of the songs individually, as tracks blend seamlessly into each other almost without the listener even noticing. This is exacerbated by the similarity of Tariq’s down-tempo, minimalist, and low-end heavy productions, which, despite the variation in vocal styles, makes Beatz’s vibe more mellow than lively. With instrumentals and non-rap tracks dominating over half of the album, this one isn’t for the head looking to be blown away by microphone mechanics, although J. Ellis and U-George do team up well on the banging “Copy Catz” and Khari flips a nice little tale of love unrequited on “Ride Wit Me.”
While he didn’t produce the most exciting album of 2003, listeners should still keep Tariq L’s name fresh in their minds. Beatz is not likely to be snapping many necks, but it’s still an entirely listenable project with spots of subdued brilliance.