Tank has been in the music industry for 17 years, writing, producing, and singing. Starting out in the late 90s, Tank wrote many hits for some of your favorite artists before launching his own career and taking the R&B world by storm. He released his latest album earlier this year and it is a follow-up to his earlier hit album Sex, Love & Pain. I had the pleasure of speaking to R&B crooner Tank about his new album Sex, Love, & Pain 2, his tour, family and wearing the many hats of being in the industry.
Tell me about your new album Sex, Love and Pain 2. You released Sex, Love and Pain nearly 10 years ago. Why do another one now?
“I think everything just happens for a reason if you’re patient enough and you listen, and look for all of the signs pointing in the right direction, it’ll kind of let you know and lead in the right direction. Since 2007 we’ve always talked about doing Sex, Love & Pain again, but we never actually got to get into it and get to that space. With it being 2016 and everybody thinking ‘What is Tank going to do now?’ 17 years in, it was the perfect time to get back to that state where I’ve connected with a lot more people. Sex, Love & Pain was a moment that was undeniable on all levels and I wanted to get back to that music and that connection. From the response, I think we did a good job.”
What experiences were you going through that inspired this album? Was it mostly the same situations that inspired the original Sex, Love, and Pain?
“It’s just a matter of making the experiences current. Everything changes in terms of how people speak about it. The experience may be the same, but in terms of the technological aspect of the relationship –you’ve got Instagram, you’ve got Twitter – you’ve got all these other things that are now factors in a relationship. Factoring all of those different experiences and making it current experiences is what drove the project and I think it drove the sound of the project and why it sounds the way it does. We’re in a space where a lot of the tempo music, in terms of the trap style and some of the hip-hop stuff is infused as well, so it’s just where we are. My goal was to stay true to who I am and what I do and bring it together with a lot of those current feelings.”
You have so many guests on SLP2 including Rich Homie Quan, Wale and Chris Brown. Why do you think it was important to incorporate so many features on this album?
“I think it’s good for musicians to collaborate, period. I think that something special happens when you get a bunch of creative people in a room with one goal in mind, that’s to make something great. To me, that’s magic as well. That collaborative energy, whether it be with producing or whether it be with songwriting or artists for that matter, to me it’s needed throughout this process. I have to show people that there’s camaraderie among other artists. We all rock with each other. We’re all family and we’re friends.”
The first single from SLP2, “You Don’t Know,” samples from Patti LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew.” Who are some of the people that have inspired you to create your music?
“I’d have to go back a long time to BabyFace ‘Tender Lover’ album. That really set the tone to how I do R&B. Or take it back to R. Kelly ‘Down Low.’ Or take it back even further than that to Reverend John P. Kee. A group called Jodeci, Boys II Men. I can’t say that there’s anything moving so much so in those spaces now that inspire me. On a certain level I like a lot of things that are happening, but that foundational music from back then, it can’t be replaced or duplicated.”
You’re not only taking care of your own career, you have your own label Song Dynasty and you’re managing a few groups and artists. You also include them on your own songs like “#BDay” featuring your artist Siya, who is a rapper. How is it to work with and manage Siya while also maintaining your own career?
“It’s something that I’ve been doing since I started, but it just wasn’t so connected to me. I wasn’t reaping the benefits of it. In terms of writing songs and producing music or putting artists in a better position, I’ve been doing that for all of my career. Now I’ve finally gotten an opportunity to sign the artist. With Siya, I’m connected and I’m able to use all of my resources to try and push her ahead and establish her career.”
So, you’re going on tour this Spring and hitting about 15 cities. Will there be any special guests with you for the SLP2 tour?
“12Til! is going to open. That’s my group as well that’s signed to me out of Beaumont. Depending on the city, we’ll see who shows up. I have a lot of features. Some people might hop on and do some things and turn up a little bit with me. We’ll keep the surprises a surprise.”
R&B seems to be the genre that is losing its way and many artists are straying away from it. What are you doing to keep R&B relevant?
“I’m doing my best to keep my style of R&B alive and what I believe R&B to be. Everybody’s definition of R&B is different. It’s up to the individual. What I’m accustomed to is music that deals with real life, real emotions and real feelings attached to it. That’s my fight. Somebody else’s might be fighting for something different. It’s hard for me to say I’m keeping true R&B alive, I’m just trying to keep my version of it alive.”
What changes in the genre have you’ve seen over your 15 year career? Do you like the change?
“I’m a fan of it all. You can definitely see where they’re taking emotion out of the music because it’s hard to compete in a space where emotionless music is dominating the airwaves. You have to figure out a way to compete and stay alive in that space. It’s kind of forced our hand so we got to figure out ways to be creative in a space that doesn’t warrant a whole lot of sensitivity. That’s where we are as artists and on a certain level we’re not allowed to be sensitive, [but] we’re finding our way.”
Fans really enjoyed the Three Kings album from you, Tyrese and Genuwine. Everyone is hoping for another album, but it’s not clear if you all are working together right now. What’s the state of TGT?
“Right now there’s no TGT. I’m hoping we’ll come back and do something really cool because for me it’s about the fans, it’s about the music. That’s really what I’m focused on. I’m not focused on the money, I’m not focused on the check or percentage. All that comes with making great music and making history, so if we can get everybody on that page then we’ll make some more music.”
On top of your music career, you’ve stepped into the acting world. We first saw you do great in “Preacher’s Kid.” Now you’re in the second season of the TVOne hit show “Born Again Virgin.” How do you enjoy doing this show?
“It was awesome working with the cast members. The three young ladies who lead the show, Dani in particular, are just extremely awesome. Beautiful black women taking the lead with some very cool content. Very smart, funny, and my job is easy. I get to be the only guy on the TV show so that’s pretty fun. It’s a very cool experience. It’s made me really love the acting process. You’ll see a lot more of me in that acting phase.”
With you being a very busy, hardworking man, you also have a big family to take care of. Do you have a good work and family balance?
“I really can’t say that there’s a balance. You have to do what you can. You’re going to miss some things because you’re going to do what you have to do for them. A lot of times, you’ll be there and you’ll be able to make things happen a little cooler just because of what you’re able to do. There really is no balance just everyday, getting up, and trying to make the best of it. You can’t make everybody happy everyday. As long as your heart and your intent is in the right place then God will work that. My kids are first, they’re priority and everything that I do all goes to them. When they’re young, they try to understand but they don’t. As they get older they understand Daddy has to work to make sure that we’re well taken care of and they get it.”
Are your kids following your footsteps in music and entertainment?
“Well they have the gift. My two oldest daughters, they act, they dance, they write their own music, so they have the gift. We’re getting ready to see. They’re 14 and 11.We’re getting ready to see where it goes. These are the years that it starts to take shape. I’ll lead them in any direction they want to go.”
Do you want to share anything else with fans?
“My job is to keep the R&B music coming. I’ll be in a city near you on the tour. Look out for more new music and I’ll do my part if you do yours.”