Interview: Tank Talks Music, Matters of the Heart and Being 'Stronger'
Tank needs no introduction. The R&B singer we first saw over ten years ago rocking baby blue sweats and a white bandana, is back tougher than ever with his theme-following sixth studio album, Stronger. This is apparent in his latest single “You’re My Star,” which oozes a Michael Jackson flavor with its funky melody and danceable beat.
“This music is more retro, more of the authentic sound that I kind of fell in love with," he said. "You know, the kind of music that designed me as an artist, singer, songwriter and producer. For the most part, I’m really good at just doing good music. The trendy stuff, I mean I can do that I guess, but for this album I wanted to connect with my space in life.” We were also surprised to find out a few more interesting tidbits about the hunky crooner, like being big into dancing at one point in his life (which we clearly notice in the “You’re My Star” video). He impressed us with quite a few moves. Who knew?
Tank got candid with us around the Vixen headquarters about the inspiration behind the tracks on his new album, his new fitness movement “Stronger U” and unreciprocated love. Grab some popcorn and read up on this rhythm 'n' blues veteran’s rocky journey with relationships and being in an ever-changing music industry as he breaks down some of our favorite songs on the album.
All Photo Credits: Stacy-Ann Ellis
Vibe Vixen: “You’re My Star” is a very feel-good and happy track. Is there someone special in your life that inspired this song?
Tank: No one inspired the song. When I was making the song, I really just wanted to make something for everybody who is happy or in love. I also wanted to inspire people to be happy or in love. The fact that I am happy or not in love helps (laughs). The song does have some authenticity and it was designed for that moment; those things that we don’t have any more you know what I mean? We don’t have those “happy in love” songs where we are celebrating or appreciating it for what it is, so I wanted to go back to that.
Is this the new Tank or will you be making more of that classic R&B we're already accustomed to?
I would say that this song is a version of Tank. It’s something that people haven’t heard from me a lot and it’s showing people the diversity of me. I can do a lot of things and this is one of those things.
“Nobody Better” discusses of someone who claims that there no woman in his life better than her. What makes a woman number one in yours?
I guess her being my one (laughs). First of all, let’s start with my daughters.
How many do you have?
I have three daughters. If you’re my daughter, you are definitely number one off top, you feel me? However, I love a spiritual woman, a woman who is somewhat health conscious and someone who can help my house [become] a home. As it pertains to a career, as it pertains to money and all this other stuff, those things are already in place so I want somebody who is able to care for the spirit, care for the heart, care for the mind and take the stresses of the world away. In other words, help alleviate the stress and get it off your shoulders. That is somebody who could be number one.
“Dance with Me” has a disco feel that is reminiscent of 70s dance songs. Are you a party guy or the laid-back type?
I like to have fun. I like to get out there and move my feet and clap my hands. This is a good moment because it’s not like I’m about to be a Chris Brown but we out there just having a good time, two-stepping and that type of thing. Everybody can relate to that and everybody can have a good time doing that.
Were you a party person when you were younger?
Absolutely. I used to dance when I was in middle and high school. I used to get it.
What kind of dances?
That old-school stuff like the running man. All the cool dances we got now, like crumping, nae-nae, and all that other stuff is a different style. Not that I can’t do any because I can definitely rock some of those as well. I like that the new generation is taking it back to a time when dancing was a lot more fun.
What’s something that you feel like you’ve got to have in a female like you reference in your track “Gotta Have it”?
It’s basically a take on the relationship. When you are interacting with someone that you’re very into, you can’t get enough of it. When you’re not there you want them there, when they’re not on the phone you want to call. It’s that feeling where you’ve gotta have her and this song speaks on the effects of having her and why I always want her.
“Missing You” talks about missing a woman who is no longer in a guy’s life. What’s a lesson you’ve learned from heartbreak?
I learned that it’s not something that you want to hide from. It’s not something that you don’t want to make yourself available to. You’ll only truly be heartbroken if you give your heart, give away lov, and you truly put yourself in a position to lose something. Far too many times we don’t, and this makes it so easy to walk away from things because our heart is not all the way in it. I’ve learned from heartbreak that it is bad but it’s not that bad. It’s a part of life so you grow and you learn from every heartbreak that you experience.
Your next song is titled “Same Way.” What are some things that you’ve done in your career in the past that you wouldn’t do the same way?
I wouldn’t have taken things so personally in the beginning of my career. I was mad about a lot of things and it’s because I just didn’t understand that everybody isn’t like me. Everybody doesn’t appreciate it or value it. For some people it’s just business and whatever they have to do to get a dollar, they’ll do it. I was raised with a few more morals so money wasn’t always my motivation and it’s hard for me to look at things like that. I just love to do what I do and I thought that everybody was doing this for the love but that’s just not the case. If I could go back I would be a little less personal, a little less loving to those who didn’t deserve it, and I would’ve been more about my business.
“Hope This Makes You Love Me” hits home for a lot of us. Have you ever loved someone but the feelings weren’t reciprocated?
Yeah, of course, that is where the song comes from. It’s an honest feeling. You love somebody and shoot, let’s go to the point where you’re on the verge of losing it; you’re fighting hard to keep it and maybe that person has already moved on. They’ve already decided in their hearts that this part is over but for you it’s not. So you go through all these different dynamics of trying to find ways to rekindle that and bring that back to life in hopes that somebody will love you the same way that you love them. It’s something that we all go through and unconsciously we find ourselves out there saying “What am I doing?” It’s for love, though, so that’s not a bad thing.
You started a “Stronger U” movement in conjunction with the album. Tell us more about that and how Vixens can get involved.
“Stronger U” is spiritual encouragement, mental encouragement and all of the above. It’s also free so join and enjoy yourself. We’ve got t-shirts, events and prizes, so follow me on my social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram for info.
Does having daughters effect you, being that you are a considered sex symbol?
Definitely. I mean you want to have some accountability to your children. You have to be mindful of the example that you’re setting for them and have something for them to look up to when it comes to looking for a boyfriend or a husband you know? You want to set those standards within your own household.
Speaking of having daughters, I’m sure they listen to a lot of the R&B out right now like your Chris Browns and August Alsinas.
Kind of, but not really.
Why is that?
We kind of do our best to try to censor some of these things because music is programming. Kids get it into their system and they begin to act it out. So I try to monitor what they listen to.
How do you manage after being in the industry for so long to say relevant when there are so many R&B artists that are not talking about the same things that they were ten years ago?
I don’t know, maybe it’s because I don’t sing about the same things that everyone else is right now. The thing that I do, you can only get from me. I hear what’s out and I make sure sonically I’m in the right place, lyrically and vocally. I also keep my ear to what’s coming in the future and that’s it because you’ve got to compete. You have to fight for it and thankfully I’m still in a space where I can be the best and can’t anyone beat me.
Do you listen to any new artists?
Oh yeah, you’ve got to. If you want to be competitive you’ve got to have your ears to the streets and you have to know what they’re doing. Then you have to figure out whether you want to do it better or different, so I stay connected.
What’s currently rotating on your daily playlist or what does your iPod sound like right now?
You wouldn’t believe my iPod. I listen to Rick Ross, Jeezy and all the trap music. I got the Trigga on play too. My playlist has no bearing on the music that I actually make but like I said, I just like to keep my ear to the streets and be abreast of what’s going on. I also like to turn up when need be so I gotta be prepared. I have to rehearse my turn up on a daily!
Any last words?
Thank you for having me.