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.

Keithan is the founder/editor-in-chief of Rated R&B

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Interview: Tiara Thomas Talks ‘FWMM’ EP and Working with H.E.R.

Around this time five years ago, Tiara Thomas could be heard on the hook of Wale’s single “Bad.” The melodic track, which peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, would become Thomas’ stepping stone into the mainstream world. Although her past success with “Bad” is part of her foundation, it doesn’t necessarily define who she is as an artist today.

Thomas has spent the last few years building up her fan base with her own music. Last year, she released an acoustic-driven EP titled Don’t Mention My Name and went on an international tour with rising star H.E.R. She followed-up last month with another EP called FWMM (Fucking With My Mind).

Rated R&B caught up with Thomas to chat about her FWMM, working with H.E.R. and her headlining tour.

Check out our interview with Tiara Thomas below.

What were you thinking about when you created FWMM?

I live in my own head a lot. Sometimes I feel like — not in a crazy bitch way — but it’s like the world in my head is the reality and the outside is not reality. So I just talked about a lot of things on this project like relationships, sex, self-discovery and my journey… it’s a collection of these things that are fucking with my mind.

Do you think by being in your own mind, you kind of get in your own way sometimes?

I definitely think so but in my music I’m not necessarily giving you the solution. Sometimes I’m just telling you the story, like, “Yo, this is how I feel and this is what happened.” Everybody gets in their own mind and their own way. Sometimes all you got is your own head, your own boss, you know? Sometimes I love it, even if it’s bad. I don’t know. I can’t explain that. I guess it’s like, for instance, I’ve been in bad relationships before — like, bad ass relationships — and when I got out of them, it hurt really bad but I always know I’m going to be okay. That’s something that I learned about my life. Some people would be like, “I’m going to hang out with my girls,” “I’m going to go party” or “I’m going to go fuck some random person” but I’d rather almost think about it for a little bit. It’s inspiring to me. That sounds bad but it’s true [laughs].

Your FWMM EP and your Don’t Mention My Name EP have a similar cover art. How are these projects connected?

Well, I think these projects go together content wise. It’s all like a statement. On Don’t Mention My Name, I’m talking about people I used to date or fuck around with. Fucking With My Mind is another statement. Maybe the next project cover art may be the front of my face, using the same artist, and another statement. I kind of like that theme. I like that image. I thought it was dope.

You have a few EPs under your belt now. When will you be ready for an album?

I really want to get the best of out an album. I feel the only way to do that, I have to almost build my fan base back up. I don’t want to hurry and drop an album when I don’t feel like it could be at its full potential. I’d rather keep building up my base, keep bringing awareness to the Tiara Thomas brand. I’m going to put out one more EP and hopefully an album after that.

Speaking of building up your fan base, one way you’ve been doing that is through touring. You just wrapped up your tour with H.E.R. What was that experience like?

It was so fun! It was the first time I left the country. Up until a month ago, I never left the country (besides Canada). That shit was tight. I remember the first night, I was in bed in my hotel in Manchester and I was just thinking like, “Damn I’m so far away from home.” I feel blessed to have been able to go out there with her. A lot of the shows were sold out and also I felt like I’ve been getting a lot better as a performer. I like being on the road. I’m trying to be on the road for the rest of the year.

retired my pants after wearing them for 2 weeks, we had a good run

A post shared by Tiara Thomas♕ (@tiara_thomas) on

You apparently had to retire an outfit on tour after two weeks?

Yes, it was longer than two weeks. I bought these pants at Urban Outfitters and, oh my gosh, they’re so fly. I wore them on the last day of tour. They were comfortable. I like to be comfy and I was like, “I’m not taking these pants off. People spend money on clothes, wear them once and don’t wear them no more.” I wore the pants for about three and a half weeks. I literally took them off to wash them a few times.I ended up going home to Indianapolis after tour and I wore the pants the whole time I was at home. My mom and dad were like, “Yo take those pants off.” I wore them to church when I was at home. I wore them to my grandma’s house. I wore them for my New Year’s show with H.E.R. I wore them for a while. Yeah, so they’re retired.

Speaking of H.E.R., you co-wrote “Avenue” on her project. What was that process like working on that song?

H.E.R. is like my little sis. I’ve known her for literally years. I’ve always had a working relationship with her. I have a couple songs with her. When she’s in LA and needs help in the studio, she’s like, “Yo T.” I just went to the studio that day — I remember I was in an extremely bad mood. Mother Nature got me that day. I was just pissed. I didn’t want to go in the studio, not because I didn’t want to work with her, but because I was just cranky as fuck. I went in there and they were playing a beat. I was just like, “Just turned down your avenue. I had to but I’m mad at you. You always say I gotta attitude.” She was like, “That’s tight.” I was like, “Go lay that down.” Sometimes I will get lucky in the studio and some things will come right to me immediately. That’s what happened with “Avenue.” I just started freestyling the song off the top of my head and then write the rest of it obviously. The first initial idea was that melody and those words and we just built based off of that. I think that was one of the last songs to make it to her Vol. 2 EP.

Are you writing for any other artists?

Sometimes I have songs that I be wanting to use but I realize that they don’t necessarily fit my sound so I’ll try to get it off on somebody else but I want to. I’d like to. I would honestly like to write some pop songs because that’s where the money at. I had a song that I was really excited about for Rihanna’s last album. It almost made it onto her album. I was so close but I’d definitely like to get one with Rihanna because I know what type of music she likes.

With your headlining tour getting ready to start. What’s one song you’re most excited about performing?

I think from my new project “Retro 1” because that seems to be a song that a lot of people like and it’s real vibey on stage. I’m excited to do some older stuff too because I know when people discover my EP they’re going to be able to go back and look at other projects too. I got some good tunes on my EP Up in Smoke. There’s a song called “Mary Jane” that’s really fun. “Bad” is always a fun song to do.

Anything from your Dear Sallie Mae EP?

I don’t know. We’ll see. Dear Sallie Mae is probably my least favorite project that I put out because I was with Interscope and I kind of — you know, label things. You can definitely tell the difference between the music I made when I was signed to a label and the music from when I was not signed to a label. Let that speak for itself.

Follow Tiara Thomas on Instagram at @Tiara_Thomas

How Pleasure P Found Strength Through Pain

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Pretty Ricky without mentioning Pleasure P. As the only vocalist, he naturally stood out with his alluring voice that brought a grown and sexy feel to the provocative R&B/hip-hop group’s sound. The Miami-based group made an impressive debut in 2005, scoring two Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 — “Grind on Me” (No. 7) and “Your Body” (No. 12) — from their gold-selling debut album, Bluestars.

The group saw even more success with their sophomore album, Late Night Special, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2007. The LP featured their top 20 hit “On the Hotline” (No. 12), which was certified platinum just five months after its release. The mid-tempo track, which samples The Isley Brothers’ hit “Between the Sheets,” also peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Ringtones chart — yes, back when people actually purchased ringtones for their phones. Whew, what a time!

Despite all the success Pretty Ricky was having at the time, there were issues behind the scenes, which resulted in Pleasure P exiting the group. In a later interview with VladTV, he explained he left the group because Joseph “Blue” Smith, head of Bluestar Entertainment, allegedly stole millions of dollars from the group. “He was controlling,” Pleasure P said in a 2015 interview. “He stole everybody’s money including his own son’s money. And I just wasn’t happy there.”

Pleasure P’s abrupt exit was certainly a gamble at the time but it ended up working out his favor — well, sort of. His debut album The Introduction of Marcus Cooper (2009) debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It earned him three Grammy nominations, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (“Under”) and Best R&B Song (“Under”).

Pleasure P’s winning train began to derail in late 2009 when he was hit with child molestation allegations, which he tells Rated R&B are “one-hundred percent false.” He adds,“The reason why I haven’t released an album since 2009 [is because of a] child molestation rumor put out by some people who I know who was just jealous of me because I was number one. I lost everything.”

In 2012, he attempted to rebrand by using his birth name as his stage name (Marcus Cooper) and put his past behind him. He signed with Swagga Entertainment/eOne Music where he released — what was supposed to be —  a comeback single called “I Love Girls” featuring Tyga, who was in his prime with hits like “Rack City” and “Faded.” The two met while on tour. “We had a cool relationship,” Pleasure P says. “He was in the “Boyfriend #2” video when he wasn’t shit, you know what I’m saying?”

Pleasure P adds, “[Tyga] told me to put out the record, so I told my label to put out the record since he was on board. My record label put out the record and serviced it to radio. They spent some money on radio. It’s time to do the video, Tyga says he can’t do the video.” Pleasure P says Tyga’s excuse for not being able to do the video was because he had just “did a song with Chris [Brown].” However, he believes it was another reason why Tyga backed out. “It was really because of the rumors,” he speculates. “I understand why, but I don’t at the same time because if somebody tells you something about somebody and you don’t talk to them personally and they’re supposed to be your friend, I look at that totally different. He put me in a fucked up situation with my label and the album never came out.”

Over the years, Pleasure P has released one-off singles and a mixtape — but nothing more than that. Now, he is ready to make an even stronger comeback. In March, he released “‘You Changed” as the lead single from his upcoming album that is slated to drop later this year.

In our interview with Pleasure P, the singer opens up about his trials and tribulations, his upcoming album, reuniting with Pretty Ricky and more.

What’s the story behind your new single “You Changed”?

Tank and J. Valentine flew to Miami to see me because I recently did a show with Tank and I was like, “We gotta get back in [the studio]” because Tank is responsible for “Under” and “Gotta Have You” from The Introduction of Marcus Cooper album. He flies in and he listens to every record. I didn’t play him “You Changed” first. I played the songs I thought would be the single. When he heard “You Changed,” he was like, “That’s the one and I’m gonna tell you why.” The reason why he said that is because it’s very emotional and it’s something that I went through personally. I thought about it. I was like, “Anybody can make a typical bedroom song but this song is very personal because this is stuff I actually went through.”

What happened in your personal life that inspired the song?

When I was in a relationship, I was on the giving end and she was on the receiving end. It was just a one-sided relationship. After a while, it was like — I had to get the fuck out this relationship because this person isn’t going to change based on how she was raised.

Do you have a title for your new album?

Yes, it’s called Pain.

Are you still in pain from the past?

I’m restored now. This is just shit I’m getting out. I think I’ll be fully restored when I’m back to where I should be in terms of the R&B world. It was taken away from me on some fuck-shit because people were jealous of me because I was winning at the time and they weren’t winning. I feel like I deserve my spot because I’ve always delivered good music and to this day what am I doing? You’ve heard “You Changed.” I’m giving them fucking good music. I don’t sound like anybody. Ain’t nobody going to mistake me for sounding like anybody. [Some people may say], “Oh he kinda whiny. He this, he that.” That’s my style. That’s what took me to the Grammys. I don’t got to be a churchy singer and do all these runs. I didn’t grow up in the church. I express myself the way I know how.

With everything you’ve experienced in the past, do you find it hard to open up or allow people to get close to you?

No, I don’t because I actually got a sixth sense for the bullshit. Once I see the ways of a person, I can tell if they’re good or bad. I rather have a person around me that I know what they’re trying to do versus a person I don’t know what they’re trying to do. If I know you’re a thief, I know not to leave my money around you. Everybody has their ways, it’s just balancing your life out with knowing how to deal with each individual.

It’s been nine years since your debut album, do you feel any pressure to live up to the success of it?

If you look at nine years ago and what I’ve been through, of course, I don’t feel any pressure because I’m so much better. I’m wiser. I sing better. I hear music better.

 

Are there any collabs on the album?

The only feature I have on the album as of now is Flo Rida. That’s like my best friend in the whole wide world. The reason why I don’t rely on features too tough is because of the Tyga situation and another artist who did the same thing to me — didn’t shoot the video with the second label. When you look at the Introduction to Marcus Cooper album, the only person featured is Yung Joc. I know he’s a good performer, rapper and a good guy. I’ve been to his house he’s been to my house. He’s not going to stand me up for some video or some Hollywood shit.

A Pretty Ricky reunion album has been teased for a few years but we haven’t heard many details surrounding it. What’s the status of that project?

The Pretty Ricky album is done. We haven’t put it out yet because we’re doing a “Scream Reunion Tour” for everybody who was on the “Scream Tour.” We’re going to do it in July. We’re going to put the final Pretty Ricky album out around the tour.

What was your experience working on that project with the other guys from Pretty Ricky?

We’re all grown now and we put a lot of personal shit to the side. Rico Love is executive producing it. I would do my part and call whoever in to do their part. It’s just kind of been like that. Spectacular is in LA now and he has a social media marketing company that monetizes Facebook and different things like that. With him being busy with his business and I’m busy doing my album and working on other people’s shit and building my new label, it’s kind of hard for all of us to be in the same room together.

Who are some newer artists you’re checking out or surprised you’re listening to?

I be in the studio so much that I don’t really realize what’s going on [Laughs]. I listen to Kodak Black, Migos, Khalid and 6LACK. Tank was putting me on H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar.

Follow Pleasure P on Instagram @PleasureP

Tank’s ‘When We’ Enters Top 20 at Urban Radio

After topping Urban Adult Contemporary radio with his sexy single “When We,” Tank is looking for the same results on urban radio.

With a total of 1,821 radio spins, the steamy tune entered the top 20 on the hip-hop dominated radio format at No. 19 on April 9. In just a day, the bedroom banger has moved up to No. 18 (April 10).

The song debuted on urban radio back in early January after its massive success on Urban AC radio. Last month, Tank released an official “When We” remix and an accompanying visual featuring Trey Songz and Ty Dolla $ign. Before receiving remix treatment, the song became a certified gold-selling single for the R&B General.

“When We” is close to 22 million streams on Spotify, while the remix is near 4 million streams.

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