Tank: Now or Never

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Posted December 20, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Baby makin’ music is still Tank’s forte, but new album loaded with predictable slow jams and a few missteps into youngin’ territory produces some high levels of awkwardness

Tank is one of those R&B crooners that uses a little Keith Sweat swooning and R. Kelly foreplay, but he hasn’t enjoyed that kind of success. He’s a good songwriter, he knows the language of the bedroom but Tank’s presence is as questionable as Tyrese Gibson. Here today, gone tomorrow; at least Tyrese has movies. Maybe the breaks in between albums have been more of a blunder on his career. His last outing, Sex, Love & Pain, receiving the production blessing of Timbaland and the Underdogs, landed at #2 pop and #1 r&b. That was in 2007. Three years later, a bit too long for R&B standards and Tank is back with the love jones on Now or Never while emulating a chunk of the sexy urban R&B crowing radio today. Trey Songz’ style is injected into “Keep It 100,” while Chris Brown’s duet on “Foreplay” swivels like a dreamy Drake ballad. Smart move, since Drake gave Tank some open praise on 2009’s “Best I Ever Had;” proclaiming “sex, love, pain baby/I be on that Tank stuff.” The Canadian rapper visits the set on the freaky “Celebration.” With whirly synths and playful innuendos (“Let’s close the door/Bout to teach you this sex education/Since you passed every course/Hats off to your graduation”), Tank does his part to set things up for Drake’s moment. After Drake’s successful “Best I Ever Had,” Tank couldn’t have chosen a better emcee to spice up the love banter. In the spirit of younger R&B, “Sex Magic,” using the chorus familiarities of Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It On the Alcohol,” plays with Auto-tune and flirty strip-club lines like “All up on the pole for this/Dropping  down low for this.”

Not everything on Now or Never is a reflection of new millennial sexcapades. He does reflect on the grandeur R&B of the ’90’s like “Emergency,” dipping into Isley slow jam territory. And then Tank curves into remake central with an apropos cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, even though his falsetto isn’t smooth and effortless enough to pair up against Bonnie Raait’s easy soul or George Michael’s tranquil take. But half way into the collection, things start to feel a bit awkward. Like a bad porn flick, “Scream,” using P.M. Dawn’s “Die Without U” piano lines, uses the actual word “scream” as both a good and bad thing on top of a sweet love melody: “Scream when you’re fed up/Scream when you’re sick and tired,baby…Scream when you’re calling my name out/And begging me for more/Let me hear ya/Oh-oh-oh.”

No question about it, Tank is a delicious singer. Like Joe, his ability to serenade adult R&B is tough enough to become study notes for the next generation of R&B crooners. But right now,  most artists in his age bracket are making some sort of transition out of bump-and-grind central, like Jaheim, Cee Lo Green, even R. Kelly himself. Tank’s time in the gym may be working on his ego and may still appeal to younger listeners. Heck, with the right promotion, it may perform ten times better than most of the work being designed by The-Dream and Jeremih. But with an album loaded with only slow jams and barely a mood changer in place, Tank may need to start experimenting with the stuff that’s timeless rather than the stuff that’s only good for one-nighters.

He wants to pair up with R&B divo R. Kelly (who released his new LP Love Letter on the same day as Now or Never), according to recent press clippings at AOL BlackVoices, but we doubt that’s gonna happen after he swiped at the self-proclaimed King of R&B’s public drama during a recent performance at New York’s S.O.B’s by saying it might be best to do a porn tape to produce record sales. Bold, hypocritical words coming from Tank. One thing’s for certain: Tank isn’t a Kanye. Another thing’s for sure:  he isn’t a R. Kelly. Even Kelz went nostalgic in 2010. It might be time to fetch one of those first class tickets to memory-lane soul music.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 14 December 2010
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Producers: Durrell Babbs, Stereotypes, Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, Harvey Mason, Jr., J. Valentine
  • Track Favs: Celebration, Emergency


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


2 Comments


  1.  
    T-NYCe

    That was a horrible review from someone who obviously isn’t a true R&B fan. Tank brought it and brought it Hard! This is what true R&B heads have been wailing for… a return to the music. He’s not singing about money, and chasing whores.. he’s singing about making love to a woman and treating her the way she needs to be treated. R&B is supposed to be slow and invoke a sense of love and passion, which to be honest is missing in todays music. Tank went in on this album and should be praised for trying to teach this young cats how to treat a lady!

    Forget this review! Period! If your a true R&B lover you will love this album… start to finish.




  2.  
    JMATT

    T-NYCe, I recommend you read this album review at SoulTracks.com, written by Melody Charles.

    Link: http://www.soultracks.com/review-tank-now-or-never

    Although I write for ST, I did not write this review. Let me add that I wasn’t the only person griping over Now or Never. Although I consider myself an admirer of R&B, maybe alot of us aren’t “true fans” in the true sense of the term, like yourself.

    Not sure what you expected from the album review, but considering all things…I think I was actually very positive about Tank and his music. Maybe I’m just not one of his biggest fans like yourself. Diff’rent strokes I suppose.





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