Several years ago I capitalized on an opportunity that arose to promote music for an independent record company. It was a wonderful experience and I got the chance to meet many more folks in the radio and music industries. Always interesting was the interaction with non-industry music buyers; those who just voiced their opinion of what they like or do not like. Recently I recalled one of the conversations with a young woman regarding one of the groups I was promoting. She listened to the single released by the group at the time, and I asked what she thought of all aspects of the record. She enjoyed the music and even the background vocals, but had a problem with the lead vocalist. She told me she preferred that “male singers sound like men.” I wondered to myself, “What does that mean?” She explained that when it came to male vocalists, she preferred singers like Luther Vandross or Jeffery Osborne, instead of those like Michael Jackson. The lead vocalist’s register on the record of which I asked her opinion was high; therefore she would not normally seek out and eventually buy such music.
As I walked away I started to think about what she said and after reflection I fully understood why she formed her musical taste. I have my own preferences when it comes to female vocalists. Some of the reasons must be related to traits that attract us to members of the opposite sex. There are various things one may find attractive: height, eye color, hair style. Why not vocal abilities and inflections? In the world of male and female solo vocalists, there are many choices. Therefore most of us are bound to find one or more that will appeal to us in one way or another. In social science circles we could call it the musical laws of attraction. This week I am featuring a male artist that many women find appealing; because of the music he has written and performed throughout his career. This week we feature R & B singer/songwriter/producer Tank.
Tank (Durrell Babbs) was born January 1, 1976 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and moved with his family as a child to the Washington, D.C. suburb of Clinton, Maryland. He was a multi-sport athlete at Crossland High School and was offered the opportunity to play college football. However, Tank decided to focus on music and his talent eventually led him to an opportunity to sing background vocals for Ginuwine during one of Ginuwine’s tours. In 2001, following Ginuwine’s successful tour, Tank released his debut album Force of Nature which spawned the R&B Top Ten single “Maybe I Deserve”. In 2002, Tank released his second album One Man and a single of the same name.
I usually approach writing each post with a ton of questions about the featured artist, some things I had knowledge of already and sometimes learning new facts. This week I really wanted to know where the name Tank originated. In a 2001 EMI Music biography Tank explained it himself. “I want people to feel rolled on when they hear me, I want them to feel completely taken over. I didn’t want to be confused with anyone else out there. I wanted to come out aggressive and forceful from the beginning.”
The singer/songwriter certainly proved to be a musical force right from his start. Not only as a solo artist, but also making an impression on the music industry as part of the group TGT. Interestingly, the group consisted of three male vocalists in the height of their careers who decided to join forces and create hits together. Tyrese Gibson, Ginuwine and Tank gave us the album Three Kings last year that peaked on the US charts at number three.
Another fact that many may not know is Tank is also well established in the industry as a record producer and songwriter for other artists. Beyonce, Dave Hollister, Aaliyah, Marques Houston, Omarion, Jamie Foxx, Pitbull, Donell Jones and Monica amongst others highlight the list of those Tank has worked with as producer and/or songwriter. All of his accomplishments bring us right up to today, as next month he will release solo album number six titled Stronger.
Tank continues to create music in the long tradition of R & B male vocalists. The music industry is definitely no different than others with the use of sexuality to appeal to its audience. Let’s face the fact that sex sells any product, but Tank and similar male vocalists produce music that reaches out and grabs the audience. I get the impression that he definitely wants his music to be popular, and for people to buy. However, Tank wants to convey a message and connect with his fans. “I wanted to get back to making women feel good about the music again,” Tank proclaims. “I’m going to take care of people the right way with this album. It represents the good side of being in love.” Look out for Tank’s album Stronger scheduled to be released August 12, 2014. If you appreciate good old traditional R & B love songs, this might be the album for you.