R&B Sunday: Tank and the Bangas feat. Alex Isley – “Black Folk”

When I was in my late teens, I used to visit my older sister in Dallas. We went to concerts at the House of Blues and saw the early stages of the long careers of Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, and many more. It was always my idea to attend the shows of XXL Freshmen Alum and artists I heard on LiveMixtapes.com. My pregame before a concert is to never listen to the main act’s songs beforehand. I wanted to see how well I knew the lyrics when I heard my favorite songs performed live. My sister went the extreme route and would go to these concerts with me, not knowing a single song from the artists. The best way for her to learn about a new artist was to see their stage presence and be in a crowd of their established fan base.

Tarriona “Tank” Bell, Norman Spence II, and Joshua Johnson, met over a decade ago at an open mic in their hometown of New Orleans. Since then, they’ve become music festival favorites, First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorite band and delivered multiple critically-acclaimed projects with their fusion of R&B, Hip-Hop, jazz, pop-rock, funk, spoken word, and bounce music. With all that they’ve accomplished, I don’t know why I haven’t become a fan yet. They worked with some of my favorite artists, but I still didn’t give them a true listen till recently, even though they’ve done everything right. Tank has the personality and energy to front a band and host the PBS Voices series, “Ritual” that explores the traditions of various aspects of Black culture. Their featured vocalist, Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph is one of my favorite singers from New Orleans. I just found out that the band’s fourth member, Albert Allenback is part of my favorite IG duo, SaxKixAve, with rapper, Alfred Banks. After copying my older sibling’s way of finding new music, I can now say I’m a fan.

This past Friday, the 2x Grammy-nominated band performed in Arlington as part of the Levitt Pavillion’s “free” concert series and it was AMAZING. That Tank can sing, rap, or talk on a microphone and the audience will be captivated by her. The band did not miss a note or step when it came time to do some dance choreography with their vocal talent. Ms. Bell had energy throughout the performance that reminded me of Hayley Williams or Gwen Stefani leading her male bandmates through their hits and crowd favorites. One of my favorites was the closing song on the setlist. 2022’s “Black Folk” featuring Alex Isley and Masego highlights the highs and lows of the lives of the most melanated people in America. This is the latest anthem in a neverending collection of love songs for us, by us. Happy Sunday!