10 Questions for Tank

Tank believes that sexual innuendo is a lost art. “A lot of these kids are like, ‘Lick it, lick it, lick it,’ in their songs. Straight at it, no metaphor,” says the singer-songwriter in response to young R&B artists that are fresh on the scene. “I don’t know that they have a concept of a real connection outside of sexual aspects of music.” A bold statement, coming from the man who’s provided the soundtrack to many steamy nights.

A thin, navy, fitted tee hugs Tank’s sinewy frame as he sinks into a supple leather couch at the Atlantic Records lounge in New York City, reflecting on his responsibility to the industry. He grins wide and often, confident in his ability to keep his music true to its original sentiment. While his new mixtape Diary of a Mad Man boasts a feistier side to the ladies’ man, he claims that his next conceptual album, aptly titled Savior, is about bringing comfort to women and resurrecting sensual and subtle love songs.

In a candid discussion with Rap-Up.com, Tank spills about lyrics, drugs, and the physical flaw that his kids won’t let him forget.

1. What are women most insecure about?
Weight. I don’t know if women have been told that they’re OK the way they are or haven’t found a man that accepts them for what they are, but it starts with the insecurity on the physical side and then it permeates into everything else. It’s either too fat, too skinny, not toned enough—all of the above. Society provides the acceptable look, I guess.

2. As a songwriter, why do words have so much power?
I’m a spiritual guy and the Bible speaks about the word as the power of life and death. You can manifest them into life by putting those words out there. You can easily tear someone down or build somebody up with those words. This album, Savior, is to introduce the idea to women that there is a person [that’s] divine for them. Everyone has something bad about them, but you have to decide who you’re willing to accept some shit from to get to the good part.

3. What is the most unsexy thing about you?
I don’t like my mole. My kids have tried to take it off so many times that I’m just sick of it. My homeboys have come up with names for the mole, like Keyshia Mole. This mole has become the story of my life. Every one of my kids when they were two years old has tried to take my mole off, like, “Daaaaddy, does this come off?”

4. What was the most reckless phase of your life?
’97. The Budweiser Superfest Tour. I was on stage with Genuine and Aaliyah. I left choir rehearsal, straight from the church to that life. It was 16 cities in two-and-a-half weeks. I had never seen ass so free in my life. I had my share of girls in high school and I traveled a bit playing basketball, but I was a church boy who wanted a girlfriend. That tour changed my perspective on life. You gotta get balance though. I was so churched out, I had no idea. Me seeing the world gave me an opportunity to experience the things I preached against.

5. You toured with Aaliyah. What’s something we didn’t know about her?
What people think that they know about her was what she was. Everybody thinks that Aaliyah was this sweet, humble person—just a kid at heart, living the dream and having fun, and that’s what she was. There was no super mystery, like, the curtain goes off and you go to the dressing room and Aaliyah’s cussin’ at everybody like, “I want my muthafuckin’ eggs!” No. She was what everybody thought she was. She was an angel.

6. What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to reality TV?
I watch “Basketball Wives.” You know what’s fun to me? I watch Shaunie [O’Neal] and then I watch the rest of them. I watch her just sit there and watch like, “Y’all ain’t gon’ have me up here looking crazy.” She’s done a good job of policing the situation the correct way.

7. Would you want your own reality show?
Yes. Would you watch a dating show with me? A bachelor type of show, but totally the opposite of what you [usually] see. It would be about finding a woman with morals, not one without. The women that would be on that show would have good jobs. They would have a good education. They would have the spiritual background; the things that they would have to do would not be foolish. They’d be practical to being a wife.

8. If you released a biography or memoir, what would it be called?
Survival of the Fittest: The Tank Story

9. What would you try if you knew you wouldn’t fail?
I’d try to fly. I’d jump smooth out the window.

10. If you could spend a day in President Obama’s shoes, what would you do?
I’d legalize drugs. That would cut down on foolishness. People are going to do what they want to do. If they want something, they’re going to find a way to get it. If they can’t get it the right way then they’re going to steal, rob, and cheat, which compounds the problem. If things are made available a certain way, then you cut down on that part of the problem. So now, the killing, the cheating, the stealing—all the stuff you have to do to get it—you cut down on that. People abuse cigarettes more than they abuse other stuff, and cigarettes are shoveling cancer into people that are smoking these things.

–Rajul Punjabi