Tank is one of the most recognizable names in modern R&B, known for vivid storytelling and sensual love songs. He’s an icon in the making, with four albums and eight Grammy nominations under his belt. He’s also a singer who carries the torch of masters like Marvin Gaye and Al Green, while redefining R&B for a new decade. For singer/songwriter/producer Tank—about to release his Atlantic Records debut Now or Never, his first album in three years, and the one he describes as his most confident yet—the secret is simple. He remains true to who he is, as a man and an artist.
“My music is the real me,” says Tank. “I’ll either live by that or I’ll die by that in this business, but I’ve got to be me.”
He’s famous for sexy yet relatable love songs that are at once thoroughly modern and yet steeped in the sounds of classic soul. Though fans know and love Tank for smash hits like “Maybe I Deserve” and “Please Don’t Go,” they may be surprised to learn that he is also behind such chart-toppers as Rubben Studdard’s “Change Me” and Omarion’s “O.” What’s more, Tank served as an associate member of the hit-making production team, The Underdogs, with further credits including the smash soundtrack to the 2006 musical film adaptation of Dreamgirls (in which he also made a cameo).
Since releasing his previous album Sex, Love, & Pain in 2007, Tank took a moment to step out of the spotlight, but not necessarily out of the studio. He formed the Los Angeles-based production company Song Dynasty, and began shaping the sound of modern R&B with songs for a diverse roster of artists including Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, and Keri Hilson.
Though he has enjoyed crafting hits for these artists, Tank is ready to step into the spotlight yet again, and returns with an incredibly personal collection. “I put a lot of my personal business into my music because people relate to it. I sing based upon the things that I’ve been through. I don’t just sing about the pain, I sing about getting through it. Whether I’m singing about sex, relationships, or the occasional party, the songs are still about classic R&B themes.”
Poised to release his fourth studio album Now or Never, Tank is ready to share the intensely intimate themes his fans have come to love, even as he prepares to show an entirely new side of himself. “The sound of this new album is still the traditional R&B formula, but sonically it’s very current,” says Tank. His first single, “Sex Music,” perfectly illustrates his new sound. The high-energy track lives up to its name with a spacey, shuddering beat. Produced by Song Dynasty with Harvey Mason Jr. (Dreamgirls, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake), “Sex Music” is sure to appeal to die-hard Tank fans.
“We’re going to keep pressing forward with this R&B thing,” promises Tank. During the process of bringing Now or Never to life, he’s experimented with new technology and new collaborators, even as he explores the themes that have always moved him. “Emergency” is an emotional ballad with a sense of humor, comparing a woman’s desire to a four-alarm fire. “You Mean that Much” is a soaring, orchestral anthem. “Can I Make Love”, says Tank, “is self-explanatory... I’m known for having songs that give you an opportunity to not say much. All you need is a little eye contact, and it’s on.”
These timeless songs of love, lust, and loss take cinematic tone in the hands of Tank, as he crafts imagery that is uniquely tangible and real. Perhaps it’s his new love of acting that has deepened his storytelling. Tank recently graced the screen in The Preacher’s Kid, and he has been studying acting, though he promises that music will continue to be his first love. “We have to take this stand now because R&B is slowly becoming a lost art,” explains Tank. “R&B music is the thing that connects people.” Though he loves a fantasy party scene as much as any man, Tank writes about the real, everyday emotions and situations that people relate to because, as he says, “we’re meant to move people with this music, and I want to be part of that movement.”
It’s been an incredible journey since Tank was an undiscovered artist with a dream, penning “Maybe I Deserve” in the basement of his mother’s Maryland home, on “an MPC and two keyboards.” The single would go on to dominate urban radio in 2001, when Tank released his gold-certified debut album Force of Nature. Though he has enjoyed remarkable successes throughout his career, Tank considers Now or Never the album when “it all came together.” The title doesn’t just refer to the urgency he feels within R&B as a whole, but also the growth he’s done over the years as an artist. Now re-emerging with a new team and a renewed confidence in his music, Tank is ready to have these songs heard.
“Everything I’ve been through has prepared me for this moment right now. I’ve got a new deal, new energy and new people around who are just as excited about the album as I am. Everything I’ve learned over the years as a producer, writer and artist have gone into Now or Never.”