Love and pleasure often arrive as a devastating duo that spellbinds and captivates, sealing unions with kisses of promise, passion, purpose and forevers. Since the release of his first studio album, Force of Nature, in 2001, Tank has managed to replicate such sentiments through his music, led by his sultry vocals and sensual melodies.
For nearly two decades, the D.C- raised crooner has been a fan favorite who stays true to his signature vibe but doesn’t hesitate to evolve with the times. From creating traditional R&B to hip-hop fusions, Tank has been a catalyst in pushing R&B forward to incorporate present-day productions with old-school flair. The release of his eighth studio album, Savage, speaks to his ever-evolving sound with its brazen lyrics, sensual production and upbeat rhythms.
In an exclusive interview with EBONY, Tank shared his thoughts on the makings of Savage, starting his label, R&B Money, creating music from the heart and using love as a tool to combat hate.
EBONY: Your singles “When We” and the title track are intimate yet they have wild and erotic sounds. How does release of Savage define your take on R&B and what the genre needs?
Tank: I feel like my sound and take on R&B with SAVAGE speak to the level of competition needed to thrive in a very hip-hop-dominated industry. People say hip-hop and R&B, but the split is fair. They let rappers sing more than they let us, lol. If they’re allowed to do what we do, then we should be allowed to do it all.
Were there any new producers or artists you were excited to work with on your project? How did you go about selecting tracks for the album, and do you have any favorites?
I was very excited to work with Candice Boyd on this project. Her voice is just a gift! I was also happy to bring J. Valentine back out of retirement; now we gotta get a full project from him. Picking tracks are easy for us; we have a theme and one or two working records. I pass up a lot of great tracks because they just didn’t fit the theme or the tone. I try to be as disciplined as possible in that area.
Can you say you’ve taken liberties on Savage that you haven’t with your past musical offerings?
I haven’t taken any extra liberties on this one. I’ve always just done what felt right to me. Can’t please everybody, and I don’t try to.
You’ve gone into partnership with your longtime label Atlantic Records to start your own, R&B Money. How has it been working with Atlantic and signing new artists? Is there anyone you’ve taken under your wing? What do you look for when finding talent?
Working with Atlantic Records has been a dream come true. The thing you pray for is finding someone who truly believes and doesn’t mind getting in the trenches with you. I have signed new artists 3D and Jordan Year, and two new up-and-coming R&B phenoms! They both write, produce and sing–well.
You are often tasked with the role of making “real R&B,” but I know you’re also a supporter of the new school. Do you think distinguishing between the two is even necessary?
Everybody throws the word “real” around like they’re the authority on authenticity. “Real” is a word for the individual. Only you know what’s in your heart, and only you can express that the way you do. To me, there’s old school and there is new school. I like to do both. It’s all real to me because I do it from a real place: from the heart.
You’ve been releasing music pretty steadily since a hiatus back in 2002 following your One Man project. What or whom do you pull from for inspiration?
Life inspires me. Every day you wake up there’s a new song waiting on you. Most of my songs are about my life’s experiences. I’ll continue to share those.
You stand strong in your beliefs. Even with the backlash from your D.C. Black Pride performance earlier this year, you never wavered. How do you believe this has helped your almost two-decades-long career? Can being too headstrong effect an artist’s career trajectory?
Everyone has their own set of morals and beliefs. They also change as we learn and share information. Going hard for what you believe can never be wrong if you really believe it.. I stand on love and love has never let me down.
Although sharing many years with your longtime girlfriend Zena Foster, how has your engagement influenced your outlook on love and longevity?
Well, it hasn’t changed my outlook; my outlook was set before I put the ring on her finger. My kids actually helped me with my relationships. Having kids gives you a lot of practice in patience and forgiveness.
As a father of five, what advice do you give your children on relationships and love?
I just show my kids as much love as possible. I want them to know what unconditional love feels like; that way they’ll know what to look for.
Anything else you would like to add?
Let’s stand on love. Let’s lead with love. Let’s fight for it with all we have. I’m sure we’ll end up in a better place.
Tank just wrapped up his 14-city U.S. Savage Tour in support of the project. The 11-track album features guest appearances from Ludacris, Trey Songz, J. Valentine and Candice Boyd. Listen to Savage here.