Tank - Sex, Love & Pain II (2016)

Tank
tank_bday.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Tank - Sex, Love & Pain II

It's a cold, cold world out there for what's considered 'traditional' R&B. We dwell in a social media-driven society that lessens attention spans and compels folks to 'sweep and delete' if the jam doesn't gel in record time or feature a fly vessel to convey it. To stay in the mix, artists are having to walk a tenuous tightrope, carrying their skills in one hand and enough sophistication in the other to maintain their appeal with both classic and the contemporary fans.

Tank - Sex, Love & Pain II

It's a cold, cold world out there for what's considered 'traditional' R&B. We dwell in a social media-driven society that lessens attention spans and compels folks to 'sweep and delete' if the jam doesn't gel in record time or feature a fly vessel to convey it. To stay in the mix, artists are having to walk a tenuous tightrope, carrying their skills in one hand and enough sophistication in the other to maintain their appeal with both classic and the contemporary fans.

Durrell Babbs, AKA Tank, has actually embodied his stage name, thanks to his ability to endure the chaos and fend off competition with the various weapons in his artistic arsenal (lyrics, production, film cameos, etc.). Two albums away from his turbulent collabo with Tyrese and Ginuwine, Three Kings, and nearly ten years since 2007's smash set, Sex Love & Pain, Tank returns with Sex, Love & Pain II, an updated continuation of the former with twists that will be appreciated or annoying, depending on the demographic receiving it.

Released weeks after Tank’s 40th birthday, SL&PII reflects a man well-aware of his strengths and comfort zones: with The Underdogs back behind the boards, Tank can pour on the romantic sweetness, tug on those heartstrings for another chance or drop a "make-up sex" itinerary so explicit that the toes curl and fog the windows fog up. His vocals remain as full-bodied as the trademark physique, displaying the same raw intensity that he poured into 2001's "Maybe I Deserve" and this set's most convincing tracks. There's the "can-I-get-a-do-over" ballad, "Better For You" ("all she asked for was occasional roses, that romance drug given in doses"), the breathless Valentine's Day-ready anthem, "Already In Love,"  a duet featuring Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman, and "Him Her Them," an echoing, anguished plea with modern metaphors that finds Tank begging the love of his life to play the winning hand he's dealt her instead of scrambling the deck for a new one: "How you gon' jump out the window, with no place to land/how you gon' do a sold-out show, without your number one fan?" 

Before fans get to the "Love" portion, however, they'll have to navigate a dizzying array of hip-hop cameos, splashes of auto-tune, expletives galore and subject matter one would sooner expect from a newly-emancipated 'young buck' rather than a husband and father rapidly approaching middle age. Sex Love & Pain was not only more nuanced, it also allowed Tank to perform in solo splendor as he celebrated---or decried---the intricacies of adult relationships ("Wedding Song" anyone?) without the cliched detours featuring 'the club' and activities therein (pouring shots, poppin' bottles,lap dances, etc.).

"#BDAY" is tailor-made for VIP but pleasant enough, featuring Chris Brown, Sage The Gemini and Tank's own protege Siya, but the catchy beats anchoring "I Love Ya" are soon overwhelmed by "pay-for-play" imagery ("How did you do this, you a professional/how did you do this to get this to where you wanna go"), rampant usage of 'the n-word' and a Yo Gotti verse so vulgar that ears will get singed. Perversions and profanities aside, if a track isn't crammed to critical mass with the latest Twitter hashtag handles ("So Cold," "Relationship Goals") or detailed descriptions of his sexual swagger ("F***in Wit Me") Tank is bragging about what a freak he has ("She With The $***") or causally counting off random women in his phone as "H*s" and "b****es" in what's supposed to be construed as a love song-----one sampling a Patti Labelle classic at that ("You Don't Know"). 

For some, SL&PII will be welcomed with affection and enthusiasm---- Tank, after all, is a heaping helping of sexual chocolate who could probably sing words from an Xbox operation manual and make the ladies swoon. The album's production value is also apparent and the additional rap flourishes will likely garner him more attention from the 25 and below set. What his more traditional fans may still yearn for, however, is the quality we all likely took for granted 'way back in the day': an emphasis on the 'love' rather than everything else. (Explicit Version- Marginally Recommended, Clean Version Recommended)

By Melody Charles

 
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Featured Album - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

Leave a comment!