Tariq was born in Cowansville, Quebec. His father, a Pakistani immigrant, was very concerned with his children getting a good education and it was only in his mid-teens, after his father had died, that Tariq began playing guitar. At Bishop's University, he studied theatre arts. He started devoting most of his time to a music career upon moving to Calgary, Alberta in 1995.
In 1997, he was signed to EMI Music Canada. His album The Basement Songs won critical acclaim, with music writers citing the maturity of the folk-rock songwriting, as the songs addressed issues of racism and religion. His best-known song, "Chevrolet Way", was a Canadian radio hit in 1997 and garnered him a Juno Award nomination for Best New Artist. His subsequent independent release, While You're Down There included collaborations with Jules Shear and with Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's.
^Sperounes, Sandra (2001-12-03). "Tariq a happy-go-lucky Liberal Guy despite losing his EMI record deal: Calgary performer's indie success puts lie to label's earlier verdict". Edmonton Journal. p. B6.