TGT On a Mission to ‘Save R&B’ With ‘Three Kings’ Album [Exclusive Interview]
TGT took six years to finally release their debut album, ‘Three Kings,’ and now Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank are on a mission to “save R&B” with the new project, which earned a No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart when it was released last month.
“This is the most important R&B album in 10 years,” Tyrese boasts to TheDrop.fm. “It’s the timing. We are saving R&B and reminding people why they fell in love with true R&B. Sales are low. R&B singers feel like they have to put a rapper on every song. and radio won’t play R&B songs without a rapper. R&B has lost its passion.”
Now bring together three sex symbols with numerous gold and platinum albums, and Tyrese calls it the supreme musical collaboration. “We are like the merger of Fed Ex and Kinkos, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” says Tyrese. “We are stronger together. This is the ultimate R&B experience. ‘Three Kings’ is amazing. I’m a fan of Ginuwine and Tank so I love listening to it not just because I’m a member of the group.”
Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank are each successful music veterans who bring unique skills to TGT.
Tyrese has emerged as a music and acting superstar appearing in 19 films including the ‘Transformers’ and ‘Fast & Furious’ franchises. He’s released five solo albums during his 15-year recording career as well as writing two books. Next, Tyrese will star in the movie ‘Black Nativity’ opening in November featuring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige. He also plans to release his next solo CD, ‘Black Rose,’ in 2014.
Ginuwine began his career in 1996, hitting No. 1 with his platinum debut single ‘Pony.’ He’s an exceptional dancer who has released seven albums including one double platinum, two platinum and one gold CD.
Tank is a eight-time Grammy nominee who started out as a background vocalist on tour with Ginuwine. He’s an accomplished composer and producer who has written songs for Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson and Aaliyah. The singer has released five solo albums and has collaborated with numerous artists including Drake, T.I., Kelly Rowland, Kendrick Lamar and Charlie Wilson.
Due to their solo recording contracts, it was difficult for Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank to legally record together for a joint project under one label. “We were determined to make it happen,” Tyrese states. Six years after their first recording, the remix for Tank’s 2007 No. 1 hit ‘Please Don’t Go,’ TGT is fulfilling their dream to hit the top of the charts with ‘Three Kings,’ which includes songs like ‘I Need’ and ‘Sex Never Felt Better.’
The Three Kings Tour drove female dominated crowds into a frenzy over the summer including performances at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, the Hampton Jazz Festival and a free concert for a massive outdoor crowd at the annual Harlem Day celebration in New York City. TGT experienced their first taste of live success when they kicked off their tour on June 26 in Oakland, Calif. “That was my favorite moment on tour,” remembers Ginuwine. “When we hit the stage, everything we had been working for finally came to fruition. It was so great to be on stage with my brothers and seeing the ladies screaming. We didn’t want to get off the stage.”
“Chicago was also crazy,” says Tank. “We hooked with R. Kelly and hung out in the studio with him two nights in a row. He’s so inspiring.”
“R. Kelly went from being the R&B King to the R&B God,” Tyrese adds. “He’s taken it to a new level. He is a genius.”
Visiting with R. Kelly was especially significant because TGT features his music in their show. In concert, the trio pay tribute to many of their favorite artists, performing hits by Kelly, New Edition, Jodeci, Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill and Guy.
Of course the members of TGT also reached into their hit catalogs. Tyrese had the entire crowd singing his song ‘Sweet Lady’ word for word, and Tank teased the audience with the track that brought TGT together back in 2007, the remix of his Grammy-nominated ‘Please Don’t Go.’ Ginuwine turned the shows into a party when he banged his signature hit ‘Pony.’
Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank love performing together, but as much as they enjoy the stage, Tyrese and Ginuwine are not fond of the recording process. “Ginuwine and I hate the studio,” admits Tyrese. ”But the three of us working together made it fun.”
“I love the stage,” confesses Ginuwine. “But I hate the studio.”
“Building a song with the harmonies and the background vocals takes forever,” explains Tyrese. ”You might put in 12 hours on a song and it might not even make the album so its frustrating, but having my friends in the studio with me made it fun.”
Unlike Tyrese and Giuwine, Tank looks forward to recording. “I love the studio,” says Tank. ”I can be in the studio all day. It is where I made my success and gained respect.”
Three solo stars coming together to record an album could cause ego problems, but these longtime friends checked their egos at the door to make it a success. “As solo artists we make the decisions ourselves as a group,” says Tank. “We had to make compromises and adapt to each other’s way of working in the studio.”
“We had to be open to other people’s opinions,” adds Ginuwine. “It helped me.”
“Everyone has their different navigation system,” says Tyrese, “but at the end of the day we’ve been friends for 10 years. This benefits each of our careers.”
Tyrese has fond memories of when he first met his TGT group members. “I met Ginuwine back when he released ‘Pony’ back in 1996,” he remembers. “He released a lot of hits over the years. I was honored to meet him. I was like a puppy dog looking at him and admiring him. He inspired me. His success made me see the possibilities for my own career. He had No. 1 records. It was a big deal meeting him and he was cool as hell. We didn’t have plans to work together then, but the seeds were planted.”
Tyrese and Ginuwine soon became best friends and Tyrese served as the best man at Ginuwine’s wedding in Las Vegas in 2003. “I met Ginuwine in D.C., and I also met Tank in D.C., but at different times,” Tyrese explains. “Tank and I, we’re both Capricorns and we are very competitive. We compete at everything. I remember we had a singing contest and of course I won the contest. His vocal runs were not as developed as mine, not as sharp. They were churchy.”
“Tank and I go all the way back to ‘Pony,’” says Ginuwine. “He was my background singer on my tour. Tyrese was my best man at my wedding. We are family. We are brothers. Tank has written songs for me, I did a song with Tyrese titled ‘The Best Man I Can Be.’ So we have all been in the studio together and that made the recording process that much easier.”
TGT is already planning their next album, and Tyrese says their personal chemistry is one of the keys to their success. “We are friends first, friends for over 10 years. Our kids play together. We party together. Ginuwine stays at my crib when he comes to L.A. The problem with some collaborations is that the people don’t connect outside of business. We’re cool outside of work. We hang together. That’s very important.” Trusty words from a king.