/  05.23.2022

S6 E19 | Tank


On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Tank to discuss his final album, Yung Bleu being called the “King of R&B,” R. Kelly, and more.

Since signing to Aaliyah’s record label Blackground Records in 1997 — and subsequently appearing on her 2002 song “Come Over” — legendary R&B singer Tank is one of the most prominent musicians to emerge during the early 2000s. His debut single, which is also wrote and produced, “Maybe I Deserve,” caught the attention of much of the genre’s devotees, peaking at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts upon release. The song appeared on his first studio album Force of Nature in 2001, scratching the surface of his greatness. That following year, he released his sophomore effort One Man, which would remain his rearmost album for several years until 2007’s Sex, Love & Pain. In addition to standout songs like “Please Don’t Go” and the Timbaland-remixed “I Love Them Girls,” it was Tank’s first album to achieve No. 1 on the Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart as well as receive a Grammy nomination. The star would continue to drop albums and hit singles throughout the years.

Tank is now completing his tenth and final studio album, R&B Money, slated to arrive later this year. The project will be joined by his latest single “I Deserve,” which has amassed over a million YouTube views since its release back in October. During the recording process, the singer also admitted to losing hearing in his right ear, making the process of putting together the album a bit different than its predecessors. 

REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Tank’s “Drink Champs” interview. Check them out below.

1. On Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars 

One of the most spoken about events recently is Will Smith slapping Chris Rock following his G.I. Jane joke toward the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. “The joke probably wasn’t the worst joke that’s been said. We’ve seen some crazier jokes, but sometimes it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We’re at a breaking point so even this little straw that you put on this camel’s back, it was enough to send me,” Tank says. “Yes, he was wrong undoubtedly. Sometimes you have to go there to let people know you will. Double entendre.” 

2. On the R&B category not being televised by the Grammys

Over the past several years, the Grammy Awards have faced much criticism regarding its struggle to connect with younger and urban audiences. While speaking on award shows and the singer’s previous nominations, N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN chat with Tank about the current state of the Grammys. “It kills me that the Best R&B category is not televised, why? Why can’t our love be seen? Why can’t our sexuality be seen?” Tank questions.

In regards to what needs to be done, the “Maybe I Deserve” singer expands, “I think the format needs to be adjusted and the way you adjust that format is you integrate people who know what the fuck is going on right now. Everybody can’t be every 30. Everybody can’t be over 40. A 65-year-old, I don’t care how long he’s trying to hang on, he should not be voting in the hip hop category. Listen, if he wants to vote on smooth jazz, let him do that. But, there has to be change, and the integration has to happen now or you’re going to lose touch with the culture.”

3. On Ginuwine introducing him to Aaliyah

As Tank recalls, he was singing background vocals for Ginuwine — who was touring alongside Mary J. Blige, Dru Hill, and Bone Thugs and Harmony at the time — before the “Pony” singer introduced him to Aaliyah at their rehearsal studio. Instantly impressed, Aaliyah later invited Tank to do background vocals for her tour the following week, which in turn, led to the two working together on her 2002 posthumous song “Come Over.” 

“I come down and she’s like, ‘What’s your name?’ Durell. ‘Where you from?’ I’m from such and such. ‘You’re really dope.’ At the time, only my family knew my nickname, I was just Durell at the time. I’m 22,” Tank recalls. “She’s asking me questions like I’m the main attraction. This is Aaliyah and she’s got on the outfit bro. It’s the Tommy Hilfiger, the hair is down, the shades are here, the stomach is out. I’m like, ‘This is Aaliyah and she’s concerned about me.’”

4. On R&B supergroup TGT splitting due to differences

TGT — comprised of Tank, Ginuwine, and Tyrese — was formed as the “ultimate R&B fan experience” in 2007 when the three members appeared on a remix of Tank’s “Please Don’t Go.” Their debut album, Three Kings, which was initially slated to release that same year, was pushed back a number of times due to label issues until eventually being released in 2013. As Tank notes, the group was originally working on a sophomore effort, but because of differences in recording styles and scheduling conflicts, the project has seemingly been scrapped. 

“What happened the first time around is we fought to make that album. It was a hell of a process. Literally, the only thing that kept me from fighting Tyrese was J. Valentine, my manager,” Tank says. “That was just two alphas. Me and Ty are both Capricorns and we bumped heads every step of the way… That’s my brother so I can say that. I just felt like he was doing too much.” He later admits that the two had recording differences, which made it difficult to finish the project. Tyrese enjoyed doing writer’s camps, while on the other hand, Tank shares that he prefers to lock in with only a few producers and songwriters.

Shortly after Three Kings came out, the trio did a tour run that was cut short due to Tyrese’s obligations to the Fast & Furious franchise. “What I think is happening right now is, as stressful as that process was, nobody feels like they have to inconvenience themselves anymore to do it. And I blame that on people being rich, Tyrese is rich, Ginuwine is rich. Do they need TGT? No. Doesn’t matter to them, but the R&B universe needs TGT,” Tank continues. Though Tank is currently amid finishing his final solo album, he says that TGT’s second album would be his last project.

5. On supposing to Michael Jackson the day he passed away

Legendary singer Michael Jackson passed away at the age of 50 after suffering from cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of drugs in 2009. According to Tank, he planned to meet Michael the same day he passed, sharing, “I was supposed to meet him. They were rehearsing right next door to us, and then they told Foxx, ‘Yeah, bring your crew. Come on down, Michael would love to have you guys.’”

6. On Jamie Foxx saving him from quitting music

Jamie Foxx and Tank have collaborated a number of times with the latter writing his 2005 songs “Wish U Were Here” and “With You,” as well as producing Foxx’s 2015 cut “In Love By Now.” Tank shares that, at one point, he was on the brink of being homeless and preparing to move back home following issues with his label and being discouraged by the music industry before Foxx allowed the singer to stay with him and record music at his studio every day. “At this time I’m kind of homeless. He’s like, ‘This what you’re going to do. You gon’ use my studio and you gone live in my house until you figure it the fuck out,” Tank recalls. 

7. On Yung Bleu being labeled the “King of R&B”

Back in February, Yung Bleu and Tank got into a heated exchange on Instagram over who holds the title of “King of R&B.” Though Bleu seemingly did not mention himself in the conversation, fans alike dubbed him with the title, which led Tank to share his thoughts on how it is earned rather than given. Subsequently, Yung Bleu responded by calling him a “bitter old nigga” and sharing a series of texts that the two exchanged that show Tank asking to collaborate. Though nothing else has come out of the situation, Tank says that the two have no bad blood between one another.

“I don’t think he realizes I’m a fan of him and I only want the younger generation to fight for their space and earn their space versus throwing around titles frivolously. You can’t take king or GOAT, you have to earn that, but I do understand why he felt that way.” Tank expands, “It wasn’t about me. My voice was too much at that time.” 

8. On who he would go against in a Verzuz battle

When asked who he would go toe-to-toe with in a Verzuz match, Tank doubled down on his sentiment that there is no one who can match his talents other than R. Kelly. “There’s only one guy that was close, he’s locked up. They gotta jump me to beat me,” he says. 

“They need the best producer, the best writers, the best choreographers to jump me by my motherfucking self. Name one!” Tank adds. “In terms of who I am, there’s nobody who does what I do. There’s no producer, songwriter, singer that does what I do.” In regard to other possible contenders, Usher, Ginuwine, The-Dream, and Tyrese are among the notable names that came up. “Let’s say Usher. Usher is a product of Jermaine Dupri. ‘Confessions’ is his story, it’s not Usher’s story. It’s Bryan[-Michael] Cox producing at the helm. They gotta jump me… It’s writers at the top of their game. It’s four people against me…Tyrese don’t write or produce. He’s not me. I write for Ginuwine, he’s not me. He’s my mentor, he’s not me. Who’s me?”

9. On R. Kelly influence and separating his music from crimes

In 2019, R&B singers like Ne-Yo, Omarion, Chris Brown, and many more spoke out against R. Kelly after Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly aired. Tank was among the musicians to share his disapproval of the singer. Despite this, Tank declares R. Kelly to be the “King of R&B” and shares his sentiment on how he influenced some of the genre’s most celebrated acts.

“Let’s not get it twisted, R. Kelly is the king of R&B. Let this be a headline, R. Kelly is the king of R&B whether you like it or not. I’m not condoning anything that he might have done outside of the realm of legalities… We will always be chasing the ghost of R. Kelly.” Tank expands, “I’m not him yet. Musically, I am not him yet. I’m not him.”

Toward the tail-end of the interview, N.O.R.E. asks Tank how many R&B musicians still write R. Kelly to this day to which he replies, “A bunch…I separated myself because he wasn’t a friend of mine, to be honest. I wanted him to be a friend of mine because R. Kelly was R. Kelly. He was the top of the food chain so anything beneath me is beneath me.”


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