Tank, born Durrell Babbs, but known by some as Mr. Sex, Love & Pain, is a chronic workaholic. When not working on other artists’ material—he’s written for the likes of Aaliyah, Brian McKnight, Fantasia, Jamie Foxx, Keri Hilson, and Chris Brown—he’s collaborating and putting the finishing touches on his own projects. In 2006, before focusing solely on his third album Sex, Love & Pain, Tank contributed to the Oscar-nominated Dreamgirls soundtrack. Now he’s readying his fourth album, Now or Never, due Dec. 14—a project he promises represents everything he’s learned throughout the years.
While the talented Milwaukee native sings about sex and the ins and outs of tumultuous love affairs, there’s another side that fans barely see. Tank is extremely paternal, you hear it when he reminisces about working alongside Aaliyah, his reaction to Fantasia’s heartbreaking suicide attempt, and when he speaks about his own four children. Rap-Up.com snuck some of the singer’s precious time to get his candid responses on all this plus his respect for Chris Brown and dream collaboration with one unlikely pop vocalist.
1. You’re back with the lead single “Sex Music,” which is a very different sound for you.
“Sex Music” is definitely a new color for me. It still has the sexy undertones I’m known for. It’s definitely for the bedroom, but it’s making your furniture move a little bit. You can vibe your head and grind it out at the same time.
2. Can a romantic side and a club side cohabitate in a man?
Definitely, at some point you get to the club, you enjoy yourself, and you dance. As soon as that part is over you got to transition to the night time, sexy time. Now you need to turn that music on and if you have one CD where you can do it all, you’ll be just fine.
3. The Preacher’s Kid portrayed you in a very antagonizing role. You also wrote love songs with your co-star LeToya Luckett. What was that like?
It was a very far-fetched role for me; it’s not the type of guy that I am. I couldn’t really use any of that as inspiration to write. From an acting standpoint it was great for me to get out of my comfort zone and be a villain and not just a nice guy.
4. You worked with Aaliyah on her final studio album. What do you remember most about that time?
[She] was like a little sister. She had done more than me, so she always had advice for me. It was always great working with her and those songs that we did were different for her. She really wanted some more attitude and she really wanted some bite on them. She kind of shared that direction with me and she loved [the songs “I Can Be” and “What If”].
5. You collaborated with Fantasia on her debut album. What would you say to her about her suicide attempt?
Snap out of it! We all have tough beginnings, but it’s really about where you end up and the opportunities that [you’ve] been given. I’ll even say me for that matter. There’s a responsibility that comes with that.
6. As a father of four, what’s your favorite thing to do with the kids?
Probably go to the park. I have some super athletic kids. They amaze me and scare me at the same time. I’ll be like, “Don’t jump off of that!” They jump and they keep on going. They get hurt and then they cry for two seconds and get right back at it again. Kids are just so fearless. They remind you of that time where it didn’t matter what it was, you try it and you do it.
7. Can fans expect a T.G.T. (Tyrese, Ginuwine, Tank) reunion anytime soon?
Nah, no T.G.T. reunion. [Laughs] We’ll see what happens. The guys are working on their own projects. I know Ginuwine is. I think Tyrese is trying to get him a project going as well. We’ll see how those guys do. But for right now, this Tank machine is ready to roll out.
8. Out of all the artists you’ve worked with, have there been any standouts?
For me, Chris Brown stands out. He’s one of the most talented kids in the game right now as far as being able to write, produce, sing, and perform. He’s really working and grinding hard to put himself in a class all by himself. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all goes down in the next couple of years.
9. Anyone you would love to get in the studio with—so much that you would ask them right away if you ran into them?
Josh Groban. [We] can get into the studio together and do something silly. He’s awesome.
10. What do you want to tell the world with Now or Never, now that you’ve established yourself as a songwriter and an artist?
Atlantic [Records] has given us free reign to put this project together and make it the way we want to make it. We decided that we wanted to stay true to the real R&B formula. It represents everything I’ve learned coming to this point.