He describes his music as “sexually aggressive,” it’s not for the sensual times. It’s dark hours when music and bodies speak for themselves. Since his debut in 2001, Tank has been making amazing music speaking words often unsaid by black men. His first single, “Maybe I Deserve,” was a Top 40 hit and remains a classic. Tank has consistently released hit after hit including “Please Don’t Go,” “Sex Music,” and “Take My Time.” A Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, he has collaborated with Chris Brown, T.I., and Beyonce’. There was also the amazing collaboration with Tyrese and Ginuwine that gifted the world with T.G.T. in 2013. Tank is definitely a triple-threat. Amazing songs that have earned him a throng of adoring fans, a songwriter who is extremely respected by his peers, and an actor who earned acclaimed in The New Edition Story and Dreamgirls.
Tank has returned with his new album, Savage. The 11-song LP features appearances by Candice Boyd, Ludacris, and Trey Songz as well as production by Da Internz, Harmony Samuels, and Cardiak. The lead single, “When We,” is another one of his steamy and sexual songs that leaves little to the imagination. Supporting the new album, Tank recently embarked on a 15-city tour that is sure to stir up a little trouble. RNB Magazine spoke to Tank by phone about the current state of the genre and if T.G.T. will ever get back together.
RNB Magazine: This album seems to be a bit of a deviation from your previous work, would you agree?
Tank: I’ve always been sexually aggressive, emotionally aggressive. I think we tried to pick up where Sex, Love and Pain 2 left off. A lot of those moments on that album really paid off for us, the Yo Gotti collaboration, the Rich Homie Quan collab, those were moments where we were in a more aggressive space. Fans really gravitated to those moments. So, we decided to make a whole album sort of dedicated to R&B just competing in this space next to some of the other big songs that are out there. This was us continuing in that format. They can expect this album to compare to whatever they’re listening to right now.
RNB Magazine: There’s been a lot of talk whether it’s from writers or artists about the changing sound of R&B, do you think there is a change? Is it changing for better or for worse? How do you fit into that?
Tank: I think music is always changing. I don’t think that will ever be the defining moment that decides whether R&B will ever not be around. Music is always changing, it’s always taking a step forward (and sometimes a step backwards) the challenge is to figure out where you as an artist, as a songwriter, as a producer fit in. Where you understand the trends, can be a part of it, but also maintain who you are at the same time. It’s a sweet science. What happens to a lot of people is they decide that whatever’s happening they don’t want be a part of, or they can’t compete with, or they don’t want to compete with it. There are a lot of different factors that lead people to decide to stay where they are, if that’s the way you feel then you don’t want to be a part of music and you don’t want to be in the music business. It was different when Donny Hathaway was doing it, it was different when Babyface got his hands on it, it was different when R. Kelly got his hands on it, and it’s different now that I got my hands on it. The challenge is figuring out how you fit and how you evolve.
RNB Magazine: Who are some emerging voices that you are kind of digging right now?
Tank: Luke James I think is super dope. Love his voice. I’m still a Luke James fan. I’m holding to that. I love H.E.R. those two projects she dropped. I listen to her projects a lot right now. I listen to it while I’m working out. I just think she has a really dope thing happening right now.
RNB Magazine: Speaking of Luke James, you guys were together in the New Edition Movie. You got big props for your role as Jeryl Busby, why was acting important for you? Do you plan of doing it more?
Tank: Acting has always been a part of the love triangle. It was a matter of being able to get a role that had the positioning for everybody to see me do what I do. I’ve done a lot of acting, but this one moment was significant because this story was such a pivotal story, it’s such an important story to music history. All of the work that went into putting this project together, the power that went into promoting it and all of these things, just made for a big moment. I was just blessed to be ready when the moment came. If you did well in that movie, you were just blessed because everybody is talking about it. I was blessed to be a part of that project because it just went to the moon.
RNB Magazine: Let’s talk about the album, why did choose Savage to be the name of the album as well?
Tank: I thought that’s the attitude that we have to have if we are going to do the thing that we do. I think that everybody in every other genre in pushing the line. Hip Hop used to follow behind us, and it’s now ahead of us, and they are pushing the line, they are pushing the boundaries in terms of artistry and creativity every day. Every day we wake up there’s a new hip-hop sound and artist, a new cadence, a new producer, there’s something new in hip-hop every day. When it comes R&B, there’s nothing, we’re just following. We’re just trying to figure out how we can stay alive. We are surviving, not thriving. In order to thrive, we are going to have to take some sh*t. We are going to have to fight for position. Get out here and go door to door and really sell this thing like we used to, and that’s going take a savage mentality. Naming the album Savage represents my position in the R&B battle if you will, we gotta have it and we can’t be nice about it.
RNB Magazine: I like that. How did you choose who you wanted to collaborate with on the project?
Tank: When I hear a song, I can hear who I want on it. That’s kind of how I go about it. I don’t really go with the charts and think, who’s hot, who can help me on this. I listen to the record and think who would be dope? Who does this feel like? That’s how I either come up with people that I collaborate with, or I don’t. If I don’t hear anybody on this record and it’s just me, then that’s fine too. I like me. I’m fine with me. I can get a record done all by myself. I felt like Candice Boyd was right for that record, when I was writing “Everything,” I thought Trey would be right for it.
RNB Magazine: You’ve written a lot of records about losing love and regrets in love. You’re almost like the statesmen for that grown man sort of topic. What motivates that from you when you sit down and write?
Tank: Shoot. Real life. In order to grow up, you have to experience those growing pains. You have to go through it. I couldn’t make this stuff up and it be felt the same or be received the same. In order for the music to go past their ears and penetrate their hearts, it has to be real. There has to be a spiritual connection between them and the music, and that only comes from the music coming from a real spiritual place. I attribute my music to my life, I live all of this stuff and I have lived all of these things. I’ve been on the where I’ve had to apologize a thousand times and I’ve been on the other end when someone had to apologize to me a thousand times to me. In terms of perspective, I have plenty. I think as long as we continue to live, our individual perspectives will always be clear. I lean to my life.
RNB Magazine: I have to ask about TGT, will it ever be back. Can fans hang their hopes on it?
Tank: TGT is always a good conversation away from happening. Is it in the plan? No, it’s not in the plan. We haven’t even planned a date to have that conversation. We are always just a good conversation away from it happening. People want to see it, I believe the industry needs TGT to inspire and motivate. I think it’s a culture thing, it’s bigger than money, it’s bigger than us as individuals, It’s history. I pray that we can get to a space where we appreciate the idea of what we represent and we can get back to doing it and doing it for the right reason.
Savage drops on Sept. 29th.