When you think of R&B in the 21st century, romance, sex, love, and Tank instantly come to mind. With vocal fireworks lit enough to heat up any bedroom and an instantly recognizable presence, the nine-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum singer, producer, actor, comedian, and R&B Money label founder has defined two decades of the genre with one seminal record after another. Along the way, he has gathered hundreds of millions of streams, picked up platinum plaques, and sold out shows around the world. However, he leaves the game with one more magnum opus, delivering his tenth and final full-length offering, R&B Money [R&B Money/Atlantic Records], in 2022.
“For me, I’ve adjusted and lived through the changes with R&B,” he explains. “R&B is back in an amazing place. There are so many R&B artists who have incredible careers. The title R&B Money speaks to how lucrative the R&B business is and how expensive the music is. However, relationships and love are expensive in terms of how much you have to emotionally and spiritually invest. The investment is worth it though. R&B is about relationships. Nothing gives you the blues like a relationship when it goes wrong. Nothing gets you more excited than a relationship when it goes right. It’s never changed for me. I’m still making R&B.”
He developed his own connection to the genre as a kid. Upon returning home from school every day, he plugged headphones into his old man’s record player and drifted off to the sounds of New Edition and Anita Baker on vinyl for hours on end. Pops eventually took him to a New Edition concert, setting the stage for his future. “It was life changing,” he smiles. “I even remember what I had on. We didn’t have a lot of money and clothes, but my dad got me the tickets and that was monumental. It was all that mattered.”
After hanging up his football cleats in senior year, he launched his “mission to be a singer.” He started to accomplish it in a big way. Grinding hard, he caught the attention of multi-platinum legend Ginuwine who invited him on the road as a backup singer, which led to him also singing backup for Aaliyah. Tank’s work ethic and bond with the two (after singing his praises) ultimately got him signed to Blackground Records as an artist and writer. That friendship made it easy for Tank and Aaliyah to work together leading to him writing on her “Aaliyah” album. “Me writing for Aaliyah was great because she actually called me and told me the kind of records she needed and felt like I could deliver them. And that’s exactly what I did!”
These moments paved the way for his classic gold-selling debut, Force of Nature, in 2001. It bowed at #7 on the Billboard Top 200, while the single “Maybe I Deserve” cracked the Billboard Hot 100. To date, he has logged five #1 debuts on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and five Top 15 entries on the Top 200. A sought-after collaborator, he has also featured on tracks with everyone from Chris Brown and Jeremih to Game and Kendrick Lamar. Additionally, he joined forces with Tyrese and Ginuwine in TGT, earning a #3 debut on the Top 200 with Three Kings. 2017 saw him land the biggest hit of his career thus far with “When We.” It went platinum, tallied 100 million-plus streams and 115 million views, and attracted Ty Dolla $ign and Trey Songz for a high-powered remix. It stood out as the only true R&B record to break into the Hot 100 during 2018 and emerged as the “#1 Adult R&B Song of 2018,” according to the Billboard and Mediabase Urban AC Charts. He parlayed this momentum into 2019’s Elevation, which catapulted “Dirty” and “I Don’t Think You’re Ready” to #1 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs Chart.
Throughout 2021, he assembled what would become R&B Money as his most ambitious body of work yet.
“I’ve got more songs than ever,” he says. “I wanted to give it all I’ve got. For the first half of the album, it’s a vibe. You’re either making up or making out. There’s a song for any groove you’re in. It’s a ride, so pack a lunch.”
Fans certainly got to eat with the single “I Deserve”—written, produced, and performed by Tank solo. Coming full circle, he sampled his breakout “Maybe I Deserve” and told the next chapter of the story. Over a slow and simmering beat, his vocals take flight with swagger and spirit as he flexes his skyscraping range.
“I brought the energy from 2000 into 2021,” he states. “People are still going through the same things. I had ego on ‘Maybe I Deserve,’ but it wasn’t as obvious. This time, I let the ego shine! I took one of my biggest moments and gave the audience something new.”
Elsewhere, he and longtime collaborator J. Valetine lock into an unbreakable harmony on “Slow.” Then, there’s the sultry movement of “When You Dance.” It culminates on the hypnotic hook, “When you dance, ain’t nobody fucking with you’.”
“By now, everybody knows I am completely enamored by dancers—I married one, so I could have one in the house,” he laughs. “Watching dance is just as healing and rejuvenating as singing is. No matter what is going on in our relationship, if you dance, we’ll be okay.”
He has continued to expand his world. It encompasses the R&B Money Podcast and YouTube reality show Babbs to the Bone in addition to acting in films such as Lifetime’s Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Story—which Bishop T.D. Jakes executive produced. Simultaneously, he’s growing the R&B Money label, serving as home to Feather and more.
“I’m not going completely off into the sunset, I’m still on the ranch,” he says. “I’m just working on a different part of the ranch. I want to break new artists as a great executive. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I can’t leave because I’m at the top of the food chain. I’m not leaving; I’m transitioning. I’m going to use all of this winning energy to do the next thing.”
In the end, Tank has crafted one more classic before the next chapter.
He leaves off, “When you hear the record, all I want you to say is, ‘This is a fucking R&B album’. Take notes.”
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