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By Kevin L. Clark


      R&B is not in the same plight that some would say hip-hop is in. But there are a few who would beg to differ. Those are the soulful elite; the ones who made your favorite songs to make whoopee too. Durrell Babbs belongs in this new school class. The Wisconsin born, singer/songwriter has been behind the scenes with your favorite musicians (Aaliyah) to comedians (Jamie Foxx) with the same success.


      After a brief hiatus of not appearing on your television screen, the man known as Tank is back with his third solo offering – Sex, Love and Pain. Dropping Please Don’t Go as the first single, the multi-talented musician has a lot of catching up to do. A former athlete, competition is nothing for Tank to handle.


      He sits down with CrackSpace as he discusses his new album, relates his music to real world living and explains why one out the new school class of R&B male singers has a long future ahead of him.


HHC: So, what all have you been doing during your hiatus?


Tank: I’ve been writing and producing like crazy for everybody. I’ve been in the studio with Ruben Studdard, Tyrese, Fantasia, Omarion, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx, myself [laughs] and a few others. There’s a new artist that I’m working with named, Marvin, he’s signed to Universal. I’m just trying to help develop new acts, as well as helping out the established ones.


HHC: Why name the album, “Sex, Love and Pain”…?


Tank: For me, the album generally deals with the relationships within life. It’s a throwback to what R&B was about, back in the days. When you talk about Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and the like, they were singing to or at their women. That’s kind of what that album goes back to. I’m going to sing about those things – sex, love and pain. That is what R&B music is to me; it’s a story to go and share with the world.


HHC: What has happened in your life to where the title of your album relates?


Tank: I’ve lived a long time [laughs]. I’ve had my share of sex, my share of love and my share of pain. A lot of these songs indirectly or directly talk about these things. One of the reasons why I have success is because people can understand and relate to the music. It’s not a farfetched idea. I’m not popping Cristal bottles or driving super-expensive cars, the average listener doesn’t really relate to that on the daily. But they can see themselves arguing over a late phone call. They can see themselves about fighting about someone whereabouts.


HHC: How will you set yourself about from the masses of R&B singers that have come out the last couple of years?


Tank: I guess it’s in a sense that I kind of… I don’t want to say that I helped create them, but a lot of R&B artists now are different than back in the day because back then they created their own sound. Record companies now push them into certain sounds. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the work, but they’ll send their artist to an artist to help develop their sound. I’m involved in everyone’s process, yet I create my own lane.


HHC: What do you think about the increase of male R&B singers over the last few years?


Tank: I think a couple of these guys are very talented. There are some who are performers, some who are just trying to feel their way and get the hang of it. I really think Chris Brown is one that stands out amongst them all. He’s more involved in the creative process. He’s really creating a lane for himself. He’s not subjecting himself to the hottest producers and writers, and that right there is different from most R&B artists. I think he’ll be around for a long time.


HHC: You were working with Jamie Foxx for a while there. What have you taught him about the music business that he may or may not have known?


Tank: He’s always baffled at how the music business is how it is. He’s amazed at some of things that go on within the industry. In the movie business, they handle their business. Even having a contract in black and white doesn’t guarantee anything in the music business. I think the only thing that he’s learned about in this business is the foolishness that comes along with it. He has a great time in the movies, but when you crossover into his first love, which is music; you’re reintroduced to the foolishness that’s in this business. It’s not good. It almost makes you not want to do this business, but we were created to do that. So, we just take the good with the bad.


HHC: You’ve made some baby-making tracks, Tank. Can your fans expect the same with this new album?


Tank: The more of the same… sexy tracks, songs filled with heart. The cohesion is apparent with this one. It’s leaning towards my strength, which is telling stories. I’ve been working with Timbaland and we have a lot of good stuff. I’m trying to get all the ballads lined up in a row, so you don’t have to skip anything.


HHC: What has been your worst moment on stage?


Tank: The worst moment on stage was when I was launching “Freaky,” my first single. I was singing it with all my heart, trying to take it through the roof. But I’m slowly… surely hearing the murmuring within the crowd. I had seen a girl in the front row just break out and start talking. [Laughs] I still had a bridge and two verses to do. I got nervous. I started sweating… my throat got dry. [Laughs] That was the closest thing that I had ever got close to being booed.


HHC: I recall you singing back-up when your friend sung to Serena Williams during the Espys. The first time was funny, but the second time was outrageous. How did you guys come up with the concept for the second installment?


Tank: Jamie and all them comedians in the room came up with it. Chris Spencer; these guys are hilarious. We were all there. Jamie made up most of it, though. He’s musically more talented than a lot of people give him credit for. We just came up with a nice Jodeci harmony.


HHC: The buying public can be fickle once you’re outside of their radars. Why should anyone want to go out and buy a Tank album?


Tank: I think that people are still buying good music. They may not be doing it at the same numbers, but they will buy. You have to look at the facts. Beyoncé sold three million.  Mary J. Blige and Jamie did the same. People are buying the music! What I put out is good music. I focus on doing good music. I want to give something to people that of which they can feel. A lot of people can appreciate that, rather than just have a hit pop record and then be gone the next. They’re hungry for the soulfulness; they’re waiting for good music.


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