In an age where R&B lyrics and rap bars mirror each other, mainstream crooners are leaving the sweet and sultry behind for the less refined. But not Tank. He’s sticking to what he knows on his seventh album, Stronger, which merges retro vibes with sweet ballads. It’s an R&B effort that stays true to its rhythm and blues roots.
VIBE caught up with Tank this week in New York City to talk about his new album, the status of TGT and that one time he was catfished.
VIBE: What did you do differently on this album that you haven’t done before?
Tank: I added a lot more of the the original retro sound of R&B to this album, all the way through and through. I really wanted to pay homage to that sound and what I do as a musician, as a true vocalist, as a songwriter and really let people experience that side of me 100 percent. Coming off the TGT album, I saw that there was still a need for real R&B music, and nobody’s really throwing that out there. This album is leaning towards my strengths and what I do well.
Why doesn’t the project have any features?
I’m not really a feature-heavy guy anyway. When I have a vision, I like to see it all the way through, you know? Sometimes I feel like if a feature is going to interrupt that vision and it’s not going to really speak to the song the way I need it to, then I’d rather just be without it. I don’t do features just to do features that put hot people on one song. That’s a way of doing things, but it’s not my way.
What was your favorite song to record on the album?
Probably the Jerry Wonder songs [“Dance With Me,” “I Gotta Have It,” “Missing You,” Thanking You”] because he’s such a high-energy guy. It made it fun. It made the process fun. We had a blast recording those records. He would come in the studio screaming and shouting [laughs].
What do you think about the ratchet sound of R&B today?
I wouldn’t just say R&B has gotten raunchy and ratchet. The world has gotten raunchy and ratchet, and the songs that come out of that are just what people are experiencing right now. You can’t be mad at people writing about what they experience.
Your artist Siya is featured on the new reality show, Sisterhood of Hip-Hop. Tell me about that relationship.
I signed Siya almost two years. I met her years before that and I thought she was an extremely dope talent. When I ran back into her I told her, “Listen, I do R&B and I’m not really well versed in the ways of hip-hop and I know there is a different way to go about it, but I believe in you and I’m willing to take a chance on that.” She was with it and we’ve been on that journey ever since. Sisterhood of Hip-Hop is the first big step in some of that belief coming to light. People get to see and understand what I’ve been spending all this money on [laughs]. She’s a superstar and she speaks for people that wanna be heard.
What’s going on with TGT?
We’re in talks and we have a deal on the table which is already signed. We got a album that everybody is waiting on. The second album is in talks and we are looking to get started on it real soon and be ready for a 2015 release.
Since you named your album Stronger, what is it that makes a relationship stronger?
Communication. Real communication, honesty. Just answering questions, regardless of how it hurts anybody or how it affects them. It’s hard to love something or somebody you don’t really know. I think that too many times, when you get deep into a relationship you start to realize that this person isn’t who you thought they were. That sometimes is way more damaging than anything opposed to coming out the gate like, “hey, this is me. This is what I have to offer and this is what I need to work on and what I’m willing to do about it.”
As opposed to being that transparent, we put up this front and we hire these representatives to present us in ways that really aren’t us and that miscommunication right there is the demise of most relationships. You’ve heard women say, “I don’t even know you anymore!” And that’s real because they’re like, “how did you do all this behind my back?” or “Why would you this like what kind of person are you?!” In the beginning you could’ve said, “well I’m this kind of person. I need help.”
How do you feel about online dating or using an app like Tinder to meet people?
I can’t say I’m not comfortable with online dating. It’s more of the fear of the unknown right now. I’ve been catfished before on Twitter. That was years ago. You go through your Twitter and then you’re hooking up like, “When I’m in your city come holla at me.” They get there and it’s like [Tank looks around], who are you? I had to get out of there. [Online dating] seems like it would make sense because you list all the things you want in a person, list all the things you have as a person, and you just hope the person that you meet ain’t lying about their qualifications. I haven’t heard any success stories, but I haven’t heard any horror stories. I’d rather meet someone in person.
It’s hard, though.
It’s hard for [women]. I’m a guy. There’s way more beautiful women, women that are about something, women with jobs and great mental capacity. There’s way more good women than there is good men. Its a total imbalance. So yeah, you might need to go on Tinder.
Photo Credit: Stacy-Ann Ellis