Various dictionaries define the word “strength” or “stronger” as “being able to withstand great force or pressure,” “possessing skills and qualities that create a likelihood of success,” and “firmly held or established.” Durrell Babbs, more commonly known as singer-songwriter-producer Tank, is in his fourteenth year of his career and showing no signs of slowing down, hence making him a “strong” candidate in the R&B music game. He knows it too (his stage moniker is Tank for crying out loud!), but in addition, that’s why he’s titling his sixth solo studio album, Stronger, which arrives on Aug. 12. It’s a simple statement of his physical, mental, and musical fortitude.
During our photo shoot with Tank for the inaugural issue of Singersroom’s digital cover series, the 38-year-old dished on his source of strength, citing personal growth as the reason behind this new era of robust creativity. “What makes me stronger is growth. I think that if we all give way to experience and accept the teachings, accept the understandings that goes along with it, then you really have no choice but to become stronger. You really have no choice but to benefit from all the trials and tribulations from the good times as well as the bad times,” Tank intimately reveals. “And this information has taken me into a space where musically, I’m at my best; I’m at my strength, physically, spiritually, mentally.”
Regarded as one of the most underrated entertainers in R&B, Tank knows that it takes tough skin to maintain a sound mindset, and to stay the course. “The things I thought that could break me have only made me stronger; it’s something that they call when all the stars align and right now it’s just one of those times for me. The music reflects it, the subject matter reflects it, the attitude reflects it,” he says.
Tank is no stranger to growth: after turning down a college football career to pursue music, then perking up ears by singing background for Ginuwine, he went on to release his 2001 debut LP, Force of Nature, which spawned the hit single, "Maybe I Deserve." Four more solo albums followed (‘One Man’, ‘Sex, Love & Pain’, ‘Now or Never’ and ‘This Is How I Feel’) — He peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with “Please Don’t Go” from 2007’s Sex, Love & Pain. His songwriting and production credits aren’t shabby either after working with the late Aaliyah, Jamie Foxx, Donell Jones, Beyoncé, Monica, Omarion, and Dave Hollister as a part of the famed Underdogs production team.
“The creative process for me, kind of all happen at the same time conceptually,” he says. “When I come up with a melody, I’m already singing on stage… It’s almost like a build backwards to try and fill the space between the inception of the idea and the life that I see it taking on. I’m pretty much inspired by anything.”
Just listen to the previously released singles “You’re My Star,” “Stronger” and “Dance With Me” and you'll hear the obvious: Tank is coming for blood on this next album! The swingy, horn arrangements on "You’re My Star" echo the same sentiment of The Jacksons’ "This Place Hotel”; he’s utilizing some throwback magic to sweeten the ears of the grown, and to produce timeless sounds after trying out the harder “trap and B” sounds heard on his last solo album, 2012’s This Is How I Feel.