Interview: Tank Talks ‘Savage’ Album, Being Placed in a Box on Radio and more

Tank is a renaissance man. The 41-year-old is a singer, songwriter, musician, actor and gym rat, to name a few. Although he comes from the old school era of R&B music, he has been able to authentically position himself in the new era of R&B — without losing focus of who he is as an artist. He can literally go from making a grown and sexy song for the bedroom to making a club banger.

His eighth studio album, Savage, is out now. The album is a follow-up to 2016’s Sex Love & Pain II and features guest appearances from Trey Songz, Ludacris, Candice Boyd and J Valentine. Ahead of his album release, Tank released his bass-driven bedroom jam “When We,” which is now No. 5 on urban adult contemporary radio. He also launched his Savage Tour, which quickly sold out in multiple cities.

In an interview with Rated R&B, Tank talks about his Savage movement, being placed in a box at radio, his imprint R&B Money, his thoughts on a TGT reunion and more.

RATED R&B: What inspired this whole Savage movement for you?

TANK: I think our approach to the music was a lot more aggressive. I think we kind of found magic within us that we did on songs on Sex, Love & Pain II that people just gravitated to, which were those aggressive R&B moments. We were like let’s just take a savage approach with this one. Let’s go all the way there — dedicate a complete album, a complete movement to that name…to fighting for R&B and my style of R&B…fighting for a certain space. Everything we’ve done up until this point has had a kind of savage approach to it where we’re not taking no for an answer. We’re fighting for every inch and it’s going well for us.

RATED R&B: In the past you’ve released albums every two to three years apart but with Savage, it comes just a year after Sex, Love Pain II. What prompted you to break away from your trend with releasing an album?

TANK: We caught a wave. We found something that connected. We didn’t want to lose that connection. I got a call from Ludacris. He heard Sex, Love & Pain II and he said, “Man you found it. You got it. If I were you, I’d get ready to drop something sooner than later to come right back and hit them again.” I was like, “Alright, enough said.” Ludacris is a veteran and a well-established guy in this game. So when guys like that give you good information, you use it.

RATED R&B: What would you say has been the most savage thing that’s happened on tour?

TANK: I mean, it’s a tour so it’s hard to pick one thing. Girls are definitely — they’re showing body parts. They’re aggressive about pulling their titties out. It’s pretty exciting. I’m not mad at them. I got this part of the show where I do this little joke and sometimes women participate. It’s funny but it’s savage.

RATED R&B: “When We” is No. 5 on urban AC radio. With every album, I feel like you always have a smash at urban AC radio and although you make music that can be played on various formats, do you feel like you’re automatically placed in a box at radio?

TANK: Yeah, I am. It’s up to me and my team to fight our way out of that box. People are always going to have their preconceived notions about what they feel you are. I’ve been doing it for a long time and for R&B artists, what everybody feels is the natural migration to an artist who has been here for a while is urban AC. They only do it R&B artists. They don’t do it to rappers. A rapper can be 60 years old and have a record on mainstream radio. That’s just the climate and the time we’re in. It is what it is. I let them assume what they want to assume. When you look at my audience and my crowds at my shows that are sold out, it’s from 18-80. That lets me know that I can be played just as much on mainstream as I’m played on urban AC and be received very well. I’m the number one streaming artist on the urban AC format and we know that older people don’t stream. Streaming is a young format. I’m over a million streams a week. Listen, I don’t let people dictate that for me. I don’t let radio dictate that for me, although they’ve given me a lot of love and support on the urban AC side. I have a sold out tour. It don’t get no mainstream than that.

RATED R&B: Your streaming numbers are definitely impressive for an R&B artist who’s always put in that box. When you’re creating your music, and now that we are in a streaming era, are you taking an approach to appeal more to the streaming audience — since sales have declined and more people are streaming?

TANK: No. I’m just allowing my growth to be on display. Everything changes and evolves. I’ve been part of helping with evolution. For me to be making records with Chris Brown and Trey Songz and all these other guys — for me to be able to that, I’m in it. I’m not a guy that sits at home and wears an Ascot tie, cross my legs and read books all day. That’s not really my lifestyle. I’m in the streets. I’m in the clubs. I’m into fashion. The music is just a reflection of living and growing and finding my balance. My music has to be in a space where it can inspire —not just older people but younger people as well, the next generation of R&B artists who want to do it. In order to do that, I have to be able to meet them where they are. I have to be tuned in with what they’re tuned in to. That’s not me forcing it, it’s just me living my life. That’s just where I am.

RATED R&B: When we last spoke, you were in the beginning stages of launching your own label R&B Money. You now have a couple artists signed to the label. What can we expect from them?

TANK: I can’t really tell you what to expect from them because they’re new artists. What they’re doing is completely different. What they’re doing is them. I wanted to create a space where artists could be themselves. When I explain an artist, I wouldn’t be giving you an example of another artist. I would be saying, “Hey. This is Dante Dontay Duntea or hey this is Jordan Morris and there’s nothing like them.” Soon enough, you will see why that is and you will get to make your own assessment from that. That’s what you’re going to get from these new artists. We’re going to give you some individuals who are being themselves unapologetically — same way I’m being myself.

RATED R&B: Would you be heavily involved in the creative process of their music?

TANK: I provide the motivation, the platform and the infrastructure and the studio. I provide all the things so that these creative people can create. Ultimately, I don’t want them to lean on my creativity to find themselves. I want them to lean on their own. I look for artists who kind of have a clue of who and what they want to be. I’m like the mastering session of an album. I come in and I fine tune things. I give critiques and ideas. In terms of the overall product, I let them create that because ultimately they have to stand in front of it. I teach artists all the time, that’s your face. That’s your name. You only have one. So you have to be able to stand on your own. Don’t lose because of what somebody else wanted you to do. Lose being true to yourself if you must lose.

RATED R&B: You’ve written for some artists in the past. Are you still doing behind the scenes work for others?

TANK: No, I’m just focused on R&B Money and acting. If it ain’t R&B Money or a new acting role, it ain’t me.

RATED R&B: What acting roles can we expect from you?

TANK: I’m part of a show that got picked up on Bounce TV called Grown Folks. So everybody please tune into that. It starts October 2. That’s going to be very fun. We got a couple other moments coming up. Once we get the green light on it, we’ll start talking about those as well.

RATED R&B: Is it true there will be a second leg of the Savage Tour?

TANK: Yeah. It’ll start in November. So everybody can stop saying, “You ain’t come to my city.” (laughs)

RATED R&B: I checked Atlantic’s website and I see TGT is still signed to the label. When can fans expect a reunion?

TANK: I have no idea. At the moment, I’m living a stress free life. This Savage movement is going amazing. My team is amazing. It’s all stress free and that’s how I like to live my life.

Stream Savage below.

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Tank Recruits Trey Songz and Ty Dolla Sign for ‘When We’ Remix

Tank’s gold-selling single “When We” continues to evolve.The R&B General teams up with his label mates Trey Songz and Ty Dolla $ign for the official remix.

Hoping to add spice to Valentine’s Day playlists, the three R&B crooners update the sex-driven track with their own bedroom escapades.

Trigga opens up the track with his seductive verse, where he tells his woman he wants to take his time making sweet love to her. “I love the way you fuck me / But you don’t understand it’s way more than fucking when I fuck you / I would cross the ocean for you / Stroking through the ocean for you,” he sings.

Dolla Sign follows up with a braggadocio verse about his lovemaking skills. “Ride me like a pony / These niggas so phony / Treat you like a trophy / You know I pick up when the phone rings / You know I go deep until I make you scream,” he sings.

The original version of “When We” appears on Tank’s latest album, Savage, which released last fall. The song has over 17 million streams on Spotify alone.

Listen to Tank’s “When We (Remix)” below.

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Top 10 R&B Albums of 2017

2017 started off kind of slow with R&B releases but quickly picked up as the year progressed. There were a good amount of newcomers like SZA and Daniel Caesar who made an impact on their debut projects. We also saw comebacks from R&B vets like Bell Biv DeVoe and Xscape. The Rated R&B editorial team has compiled a list of the top 10 albums of 2017.

Check it out below (please note: these are in no particular order).

Chante Moore – The Rise of the Phoenix

Chante Moore has taken “50 and Fabulous” to another level with her seventh solo studio album The Rise of the Phoenix. Her artistry has aged well over the course of her 25-year career, as she sounds “Moore” confident than ever. While the LP covers the entire spectrum of love, the album’s upbeat, feel-good tracks stand out the most for their radio appeal and contemporary sound. The album’s current sound doesn’t come at the cost of Ms. Moore’s vocals, as she showcases her range (including whistle tones!) on her most tender ballads of regret and vulnerability. Even the interludes deserve a playback! Chante Moore simply delivered, and if you just can’t get enough of this album, then her latest Christmas album should carry you through every holiday season to come. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Something to Remember,” “Offa-U,” “Saving Grace,” “Pray,” “I’d Be a Fool”

Daley – The Spectrum

Daley is probably one of the most underrated R&B acts out now. Known for his spacey R&B sound, the British singer adds a little color to his sophomore effort, The Spectrum. Feel-good songs like “Sympathy” and “Slow Burn” will have you dancing to the rhythmic production. But don’t let that fool you, though. There are vulnerable moments of heartbreak (“Until the Pain is Gone”) and self-reflection (“True”). — Keithan

Standout selections: “Until the Pain is Gone” feat. Jill Scott, “On Fire,” “Sympathy” and “Second to None”

SZA – Ctrl

Insecurities, fear, and doubt may permeate the lyrical content of this body of work, but SZA is more artistically reassured than ever on her breakout record Ctrl. Sonically gorgeous, the album not only sounds better with each listens, but it feels better with each listen as well. Over time, you’ll find yourself liking songs you didn’t like before and loving the ones you initially did even more. It’s evident that SZA is still adjusting to the overwhelming response of praise for her debut effort, but as the only female R&B artist to find major urban mainstream success this year, it’s simply par for the course of success. If she continues to ride in her own lane, there’s no telling what destinations she will reach by the end of her musical journey. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Broken Clocks,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy)” and “Go Gina”

Daniel Caesar – Freudian 

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano-driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian. — Nathan 

Standout selections: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “Blessed” and “Hold Me Down”

K. Michelle – Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

K. Michelle has never been one to hold anything back, but on Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, she unveils every inch of herself in an unprecedented unapologetic fashion. The album kicks off with her rapping obscenities and concludes with one of her most soulful records to date – and in between lies an ode to James Brown, a timely Debarge sample-led criticism of mainstream media’s treatment of black women, a jazzy dose of shade to Kirk Frost (and his three or four earrings), and back-to-back country ballads. While this may sound musically sporadic, the flow of the album is quite natural and effortless. Her heart may lie in country music, but she knows how to make a solid R&B record; This is certainly her first album with multiple viable radio singles.The People I Used to Know is less about switching musical lanes and more about shifting artistic gears as the album progresses — leading the Memphis-bred songstress down the road to one of the most complete R&B works of the year. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Takes Two” feat. Jeremih, “Crazy Like You,” “Giving Up on Love,” “God, Love, Sex, and Drugs”

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Capitalizing on her divorce news and cringe-worthy moments that logged the past five years of her personal and professional existence, Mary J. Blige wore her troubled emotions heavily on sleeves of Strength of a Woman. Beginning with a powerful opening track that revisits Blige’s hip-hop soul roots and yields her first-ever music union with Yeezy, Strength scales between claiming back the power she regretfully hid behind the love for her estranged husband-manager to now recognizing how resilient she is well beyond her celebrity status. Blige even found time to be the right amount of petty and unleash a high dose of saltiness topped with sweet revenge over trapsoul instrumentations ushered in by a new school of hungry music tasters like Camper and Prince Charlez who wanted to see her win again. — Antwane

Standout selections: “U + Me (Love Lesson),”  “Set Me Free” “Survivor” and “Telling the Truth” featuring Kaytranada

Ledisi – Let Love Rule

Shining a fully charged flashlight of hope, Ledisi tunnels her way through all love’s madness on Let Love Rule. Even though the New Orléans native has the voice of an angel, Rule doesn’t digest well on the first or second listen. I say this not bash or discredit Ledisi’s musical abilities but to say, if you’re a frequent radio listener, this album won’t impress you. This record isn’t chasing the minute, ready to serve sounds of R&B. It’s an album that increasingly ages after each playback. With Let Love Rule, Ledisi uses this collection of ballads and melodic compositions to educate hearers about social injustices, how to present in your relationship and the power of waiting for the stars to align in your favor. She doesn’t do half bad either. — Antwane

Standout selections: “Here,” “All the Way,” “High” and “Us 4 Ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid

Tamar Braxton – Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness may universally signify prosperity, joy, and delight but Tamar Braxton’s album version has a far deeper meaning. Absorbed by samples from the yesteryears of R&B, the youngest Braxton sister uses her definition of Bluebird to share the private wounds from her dissolving marriage from Vincent Herbert. Balancing the dark and light colors of musical tones, this solid recording not only hears Braxton harping on the foulness of love but finding moments to celebrate its presence and all its other glorious wonders. While being fully against Braxton calling it quits as a solo artist, Bluebird of Happiness definitely leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of her loyal Tamartian fans – for now. — Antwane

Standout selections: “The Makings of You,” “My Forever,” “My Man,” and “Wanna Love Me Boy”

Tank – Savage

Serving as the follow-up to 2016’s Sex Pain & Love II, Tank takes an aggressive approach on Savage. He instantly hooks listeners with the title track before taking them on a musical journey through the bedroom with songs like “When We” and “F It Up.” The album isn’t just about sex, though. There are moments when he’s just singing about love, whether it’s the good times or trying to rekindle an old flame. — Keithan

Standout selections: “When We,” “Good Thing,” “Do For Me” and “Nothing On”

Jhene Aiko – Trip

After making a false start with her 2016 single “Maniac,” Jhene Aiko made a strong recovery with her second studio album, Trip. Released with no prior announcement, the 22-track LP is Aiko’s open diary that uncovers some of her most vulnerable moments. From dealing with the death of her brother to breakups, Aiko takes her listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through love, pain, depression, and happiness. Trip may be her most raw and honest project to date. — Keithan

Standout selections: “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee, “While We’re Young,” “New Balance” and “OLLA” featuring Big Sean

Sabrina Claudio – About Time
**honorary mention**

OK, About Time may technically be a mixtape but Sabrina Claudio certainly made it feel like an album. Laced with angelic harmonies and mesmerizing lyrics, About Time finds Claudio singing about…time (literally). “During the process of writing these songs, I was worried about time for some reason,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with a relationship — maybe just career-wise I was worried about time and it translated through my music.” — Keithan

Standout selections: “Belong to You,” “Frozen,” “Natural” and “Stand Still”

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Interview: Tamar Braxton Talks Happiness, Lesson Learned This Year and Holiday Favorites

Tamar Braxton is an open book, especially in her music. From songs like “Raise the Bar” and “White Candle” to “Broken Record” and “King,” the Grammy-nominated singer knows how to pen the ups and downs of love.

In late September, the Maryland native released her fourth and last album, Bluebird of Happiness. The 11-track set unfolded the private love stories with her estranged husband and former manager, Vincent Herbert.

As a special guest on The Great Xscape Tour, Braxton soothes her wounded love scars by addressing her true feelings on stage. With profound performances of “Blind” and “My Man,” her fans get to witness her being vulnerable, yet buoyant during her healing process.

Rated R&B caught up with Braxton backstage after her 45-minute set at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC to talk about her last album, happiness, her holiday favorites and more.

Check out the interview below.

RATED R&B: You’re currently on The Great Xscape Tour. What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment so far?

TAMAR: I think the most memorable moment was when Kandi and Tiny were in my dressing room in North Carolina while the Alabama game was going on. Of course everyone in the city was gone to that game but we managed to still sell out. We were like, “Oh my God, can you believe that we are here? We really made it. We really did it.” Tiny and I always said we wanted to do this since we were younger. We just didn’t know it would be like this.

RATED R&B: “Blind” is moving up on the urban AC radio chart. Can we expect a visual for the song in the near future?

TAMAR: Well, that’s a long story but I’m going to say yes. There were a lot of obstacles when we put out Bluebird of Happiness that we didn’t expect to happen, but they did and we had to put it out anyway. There was a movie attached to this album but it got detoured. We’re trying to fix it now. We’re playing the waiting game.

RATED R&B: Is there another single choice in mind if the video for “Blind” doesn’t come out?

TAMAR: I don’t know. I always wanted either the Yo Gotti record “Hol’ Up” or “The Makings of You” to be singles. We’ll see.

RATED R&B: Speaking of “The Makings of You,” that record along with “Pick Me Up,” are just some of the many songs on Bluebird of Happiness with incredible samples or interpolations of timeless R&B records. Which record took the longest to get cleared?

TAMAR: I honestly did not have any pushback at all. In the past it does take a long time. I think producers went into this record prepared themselves for it [laughs]. It’s so funny the Gladys Knight record came up though. I’ve been knowing her for a very long time. Her son wanted to take me to the prom back in the day [laughs]. I explained to her what the song meant to me and how Claudine is one of my favorite movies. She was like “Of course, darling.” Curtis Mayfield’s estate was so generous too.

RATED R&B: What makes Tamar Braxton happy?

TAMAR: What makes me happy is being around good people, laughing and smiling — not having any drama because I don’t have time for it. During our show prayer today, I was saying, “God thank you so much for such a great group people” because we have absolutely no drama. Also, being a good mother to my son Logan. I believe co-parenting with Vince and getting along with him to make sure Logan has a stable family environment is important in making me happy.

RATED R&B: On each album, your sound matures and your writing abilities continue to become more superb. How has your evolution as an artist helped you evolve personally and professionally?

TAMAR: I’ve always been a stickler on professionalism [laughs]. But personally, I think I am more honest about my feelings and how I truly feel. I have no problem telling you how I truly feel. It’s something about telling the truth that is liberating. I know now that there’s a way to deliver it [laughs]. The only time you find the truth to be offensive is when you’re not ready for it. You have to be ready for it. You have to be ready for evolving. Honesty is what helps us evolve. That’s what works for me.

RATED R&B: You are very active on social media. With you having such a huge following, how do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?

TAMAR: I take it as an opinion. I don’t know you, so I’m not going to feed into you. The only time that you have real negativity is when you feed into it. Most of the time these people don’t know what they’re talking about. But like I said on stage tonight, “People are always going to have something to say. You just might as well live your best life to the way you want to live it because everyone is going to have a comment.” So however you feel, God bless you but this is what works for me [laughs].

RATED R&B: With 2017 coming to an end, what’s one lesson you’ve learned this year?

TAMAR: For me, not to put yourself down. Don’t beat up on yourself. I remember when I use to beat up on myself constantly. Instead of looking at the things that I did achieve, I looked at the things I didn’t. It took away from the overall pure happiness that I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t get there if I constantly beat myself up. It’s almost like I was my own hater [laughs]. I already have people on social media saying negative things about me, why do I need to add to it? So you have to be your biggest cheerleader and believe in yourself. You have to get to a point where you don’t care and just do you.

RATED R&B: So the holidays are here. I know that you’re a foodie. What’s your favorite holiday dish?

TAMAR: Chitlins [laughs]. My mom pulls the membrane out so the house isn’t stinking. I haven’t had it this year because I haven’t had a Thanksgiving dinner yet.

RATED R&B: Favorite holiday song?

TAMAR: I would have to say “The Christmas Song.” It doesn’t get any better than Nat King Cole, my sister [Toni Braxton’s], Mariah [Carey’s] and Whitney [Houston’s] versions.

RATED R&B: Favorite holiday movie?

TAMAR: Right now it’s Caillou’s Holiday Movie. I’ve seen it a 150,000 times thanks to Logan [laughs].

RATED R&B: Favorite childhood Christmas gift?

TAMAR: The Nintendo Power Pad. It was when Nintendo first came out and they had these little blocks that you could run on and jump over. It was the bomb [laughs]. Everybody is missing out now [laughs].

Make Tamar Braxton’s final album, Bluebird of Happiness, a holiday stocking stuffer this season. The new album is available everywhere.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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