1. Both singers began as humble performers.
While Tank and the Bangas’ frontwoman Tarriona "Tank" Ball cut her teeth as a choir singer and slam poet, Black Pumas’ vocalist Eric Burton was a street busker in Austin, Texas, until he got an invitation to join the band. Both acts are also said to be best experienced live. Tank and the Bangas hail from New Orleans, Louisiana, a city synonymous with big brass jazz bands, so their performances are naturally bold, eclectic, engaging and joyful. While we've already mentioned one half of Black Pumas’ charismatic performing skills, the other is no stranger to exuberant gigs, either: multi-instrumentalist Adrian Quesada once played in the massively successful nine-member Latin Funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma. We’ll get back to that later.
2. They are influenced by the Wu-Tang Clan and anime.
In an interview, Quesada mentioned Ghostface Killah as his inspiration for creating unique-sounding 1970s Soul music, and music critics were quick to describe Black Pumas’ style as “Wu-Tang meets James Brown”. On the more playful side, Tank and the Bangas are self-proclaimed fans of Disney and anime, which influence not only their flashy stage performances, but also their sensibilities for everything “childlike” and “magical”. Another fun fact from the cartoon realm: their track “Oh Heart” can be heard in the end credits of the "BoJack Horseman" episode "Ruthie".
3. Black Pumas are killing it on Spotify, while Tank and the Bangas cultivate strong Instagram and Twitter communities.
Black Pumas were formed in 2017 and released their debut album in June 2019. they've already taken Spotify by storm and increased their following 20-fold in just one year. From a mere 2.6k followers in November 2018, they've grown to 53k followers and 456k monthly listeners – a feat that can be attributed not only to their resounding album release, but also to their captivating SXSW performance that got them on the music pros’ radar.
Tank and the Bangas have been delighting their audiences since 2011, so a loyal fan community is to be expected. It’s worth mentioning that their Grammy nomination didn’t generate an explosion of new followers – in the subsequent three weeks, they added 200 new Twitter followers to their existing 17.3k, and 1000 new Instagram fans to their 136k-strong community. Rather, the long-standing fans welcomed the nomination and the band’s happy and honest reactions, which conquered the fan's hearts in the first place.
4. Both bands already have famous followers.
Looking at our “Who Follows Whom” section, we can see that both acts have already attracted the attention of big music stars. In their short career, Black Pumas can already count The Heavy, Calexico, Shovels & Rope, and others as fans. Because they're creatively fusing several genres into their quirky style, Tank and the Bangas are liked by artists from Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues, Soul, and almost every other genre possible. Impressive follower names include Norah Jones, Anderson .Paak, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Warren G, Alabama Shakes and Ana Tijoux.
5. They are both considered a surprise entry in the Grammy game.
By now, everyone expects a short googling session after poring through the Best New Artist nominations list and spotting “mysterious” names. The role of a dark horse is to be expected with these two acts, especially considering that the R&B genre is not among the most globally popular. According to our data, only 5% of the world’s 500 Hottest Artists represent R&B.
Both Black Pumas and Tank and the Bangas are no strangers to winning, though. Most notably, Tank and the Bangas won NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Competition, which launched them into internet stardom. Black Pumas recently won at the 2019 Austin Music Awards, but the next fact is even more interesting.
6. A member of Black Pumas has already won a Grammy.
As a member of Grupo Fantasma, Adrian Quesada won the “Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album” Grammy in 2011. The powerhouse orchestra has also garnered over a dozen Austin Music Awards, an induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, and their cover of Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” also appears in one of the episodes of the hit show "Breaking Bad".
Our Grammy verdict: as the industry doesn’t usually push the underdogs to the very top, chances of either of these acts winning are slim. Nevertheless, the nominations are an excellent way for a musician to be discovered and grow further in their career. With their original style and extraordinary passion that oozes through their music, Tank and the Bangas and Black Pumas are more than deserving of the highest accolades.
Cover photo: Black Pumas Publicity Photos by Lyza Renee
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