TANK: About TANK... Dozens of artists claim to be the Messiah of R&B – the chosen one called to restore the genre to its original glory, manifested through greats like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Al Green and Donny Hathaway. At the end of the day, that restoration speaks for itself and it’s clearly present when one listens to the music of Tank. Nicknamed for his size, the Milwaukee-born, Maryland-raised musician considered a career in professional sports before following his heart into music. He paid his industry dues as a backing vocalist for Ginuwine and the late Aaliyah. Having a foot in the door of the Blackground house, his multifaceted talents as a singer, songwriter and producer won over Blackground Records founder, Barry Hankerson, and his son and company President, Jomo Hankerson. Soon Tank began writing and producing professionally and went on to create songs for music’ s new platinum stars, Tyrese, Omarion, Chris Brown and Jamie Foxx among them. Having scored success as an esteemed writer and producer, Tank earned listeners’ respect as an artist with his 2001 debut, Force of Nature. He kept them with his sophomore effort, 2002’s One Man. His third disc, Sex, Love and Pain is a welcome offering that takes us back to the days where the singer you got busy to wasn’t jailbait. It’s grown folks time. Not only does Sex, Love and Pain’s title fit its impassioned composition, it speaks to Tank’s emotional state over the three years he spent recording it. His lyrics speak to the ageless subjects of love and loss over sonically sophisticated tracks that dims lights all on their own. “It’s the basis of my music for this album,” he says. “It’s all dealing with the aspects of relationships, mostly from a man to a woman, but whether it be your homies or whatever. I want to bring R&B back to what it used to be, where if a guy couldn’t fully express himself, he would play one of the songs that was out at the time -- if he wanted to apologize, if he wanted to say I wanna make love tonight or let’s get back together, or even I don’t wanna be with you anymore. Nobody’s saying that now. No one is celebrating the women like they’re supposed to. I got it covered.” Like much of the album, Tank wrote the lead single “Please Don’t Go.” On it, he pleads for forgiveness in spite of his transgressions (“Here it is, please don’t go, I’m laying it all on the line.”). One of the album’s summer anthem contenders is “I Hate You,” on which Tank chastises an unappreciative lover. “It has such a groove to it but the message is going to catch everybody off-guard – the ride that it takes to get to that phrase, it’s misleading.” Making appearances on Sex, Love and Pain are St. Nick, the LA-based duo Anonymous, The Underdogs and Timbaland. Arguably the busiest producer in the game right now, Timbaland appears on a remix of “I Love Them Girls.” Co-written with Sean Garret, Tank proclaims, “It’s a strip club record. It comes on and things start shaking, dollar bills are tossed in the air – it’s real high energy. Asked how his third disc compares with his earlier efforts, Tank cites cohesion. “The first album was definitely a collage of music. Like you couldn’t really figure me out….there was only ‘Maybe I Deserve,’ sonically, on the album. So I think with this being my third album we found a way to keep the continuity where it flows. Nothing sounds out of place. I think all these records belong on this album.” Like any artist, Tank has had his share of disappointments, but with over a decade in the game, he’s learned to navigate the nasty waters of the music business. “With my first album I really didn’t know how to take advantage of marketing myself….[I had] to just kind of maneuver in the business as a writer and a producer and an artist.” And it’s hard enough just to be an artist. In a climate where a ringtone can earn you platinum status, how does a more refined talent stay motivated? Affirmation never hurts – particularly when it comes from a certain comedian-turned-Oscar-winner-turned-platinum-selling artist. A bit jaded, Tank said at one time he felt “the best people aren’t singing. The best people aren’t writing and producing.” While working on Jamie Foxx’s 2005 number-one album, Unpredictable, it was Foxx who convinced Tank he was what music so desperately needed. “He was like, ‘Look man, it’s hard. I’ve been hot and not hot before. It’s just a matter of getting back on the horse and riding out again. You gotta do R&B. You’re the reason I’m coming back,’” Tank reminisces. Charismatic and disarmingly handsome, it’s only natural that the acting world would want a piece of Tank as well. He made his stage debut in I’m Ready Productions’ Men Money and Gold Diggers – co-starring with Miguel Nunez, Terry J. Vaughn, Carl Payne and Robin Givens -- and found he was a quick study. “I was the only non-actor [but] I learn from being in situations so I just kind of got in there and jumped in the ring. You might win one or two rounds but by the third round I’m going to figure you out.” After coming “that close” to nabbing the role of “Effie White’s” songwriting brother in Dreamgirls, the budding thespian says more auditions are in the near future. Tank’s momentum continues to pick up; while he missed out on the chance to work with Jennifer Hudson on screen, he’ll make up for it in the studio by putting his stamp on her forthcoming debut. Additional projects he’s completing include albums from his own crop of artists – CJ, Crunna and Southern Girl. Unquestionably, Tank has returned to help bring R&B back to a place before iTunes, two-ways and cookie-cutter crooners –he’s right on time.
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