THINK TANK: R&B Singer Tank Talks “Now Or Never”, Competition in R&B and RelationshipsPublished by Danielle Young on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Tank. After over a decade in the music game, its clear the singer/songwriter/producer is some sort of R&B superhero swooping in to studios and delivering hit records on a single bound. The Wisconsin native, has been able to inject his brand of music on to the masses through not only his albums, but the work of Aaliyah, Chris Brown, Keri Hilson, Joe and Jamie Foxx (Just to name drop a few). His standout singles, “Maybe I Deserved,” “One Man” and “Please Don’t Go,” have made him a favorite amongst the female set. If music buyers paid more attention to album inserts, we’d notice a resume that spans 10 years and credits that place him easily in the upper echelon of R&B artists.
Tank (born Durrell Babbs) has come a long way from his time singing backup for Ginuwine. His latest album Now or Never, shows he’s ready to show the world that musicality and heart pounding lyrics are still a part of R&B and he is willing to do whatever it takes to revive the genre’s integrity. As with most superheroes, Tank doesn’t need an audience to clap for his accomplishments behind the scenes. He’d much rather be celebrated for his own music.
You’re a complete artist–you write, produce and sing—who has an impressive resume. How do you keep your head on straight?
You know for me, it’s always being in a creative space no matter what time of the day it is. I am always doing something creative as a release as it relates to my artistry as a writer, producer or whatever. There’s not a whole lot of time to get off track, especially since I’m trying to own it all. I’m in the quest for takeover so I have to put a lot of time in. It keeps me balanced.
It seems like it takes a lot of attention and energy to make your own music, but then to also be responsible for another artists’ career has got to be a lot of pressure…
I guess I never thought of it in those terms. For me, it’s always been about being competitive. It’s like the sports mentality. I’ve got to have the best record–the best chords, lyrics. It’s just one big competition that never stops. I’ve been competing since I was a kid. It’s something that comes natural. That fight is just something I’m accustomed to, so it doesn’t feel like pressure. It feels like they’re getting ready to blow the whistle and the game is about to start.
That’s a good way to look at it. When you write or produce a song, how do you make that another artists’ piece of work instead of your own? Is it difficult to give your work to someone else?
No. When I write for other artists, I write specifically for that artist. It’s not like I have a bunch of Tank records hanging around and I play them to see which one they like. [laughs] So I ask myself, “Who are we going in with? What have they done? What key do they sing in? What do they like to sing about? How did their last single do? What single didn’t work?” You get into the science of that person and who they are and you create a record from that. For me, it becomes a record that I don’t want because it’s not my record. It’s not a record for Tank, it’s a record for Pleasure P or Keri Hilson.
We’ve been able to see you grow through your singles–“Maybe I Deserve,” “One Man” and “Please Don’t Go–“ all testimonies of your awareness of relationships…
You always get something to talk about, especially in relationships. I have a song called “Keep It 100” that is definitely going to divide the men and women on each side of the room and they’re going to go back and forth for hours on this song. It’s about being straight up and honest, keeping it 100. Can you be faithful? Can you not lie? Can you just be 100 with me? Can I see exactly who you are and see if I want to be with this person or not? Are you going to continue to put up this front? That moment right there is going to start a fire!
You’re such a relationship expert!
In this digital age, a lot of celebrities make themselves more available to the fans. There are lots of celebrity bloggers. Would you ever consider doing a relationship blog?
It sounds like a great idea. I have some things I could probably tell people to help them out. Get your shit together fellas! [laughs] There it is!
Give our readers some basic advice on relationships problems stemming from insecurity, jealousy and communication breakdowns.
My experience with jealousy and insecurity–it starts from within. It’s normally fueled by the things that the person that is jealous or insecure is doing. It’s always a mirror when it comes to things like that. We hate looking in the mirror, but the way you fuel an insecurity is by doing the same things yourself and feeling like you’re getting away with it. If I’m doing it and getting away with it, what are they doing and getting away with? When you’re 100%, it’s easy to be secure because you can get into a space where you’re saying to yourself that you’re doing the best you can and if things fall apart, it’s not on your shoulders because you feel you put in the work you were supposed to put in and was a man/woman of your word. That’s a very peaceful space for any person. Most of the time, it results from the things that you’re doing that make you jealous or insecure. —Danielle Young
Tank “Now or Never” in stores NOW