Music Supervisor Big Tank of Showtime’s ‘The Chi’ talks Finding New Acts, Music, and Working with Lena Waithe


Music Supervisor Big Tank  (Derryck Thorton) of Showtime’s ‘The Chi’ talks Finding New Hip Hop Acts, Rap Music, and Working with Lena Waithe.

The lights were dim, the music was fire and the fashion was elaborate as the popular cast of The Chi emerged unto the prom scene of season five, episode 6 wearing sparkling gold, pink, and white dresses, and mauve, black, and embroidered tuxedos topped off with classic bow ties and red roses fastened unto their high fashion prom outfits. As the ensemble emerged onto the dance floor of one of the most musically prolific scenes of the hour, “Who Wants Smoke,” a song by Nardo Wick, G. Harbo, Lil Durk, and 21 Savage came on setting the tone for a powerful, energetic scene. 

Who want smoke with me?/ Who want smoke with me?/ Who want smoke with me?/ Nigga, who want smoke with me?/ Who want smoke with me?/ Who want smoke with me?/ Who want smoke with me?/ Nigga, who want smoke with me?,” Nardo Wick performs alongside featured artists on the TV soundtrack. 

The High Schoolers went absolutely crazy. The scene was strong because the students were at their prom and graduating from high school,” The Chi’s Music Supervisor Big Tank tells ThisIsRnB. It was the first time that he commissioned a song that was featured in a TV series episode to also be a featured song that plays as the TV show ends. For the past 6 seasons, the Award-Winning and heavily decorated Music Supervisor has carefully hand-selected a talented line-up of soulful, real, classic, and special songs from talented musical artists both known and unknown, popular and unfamed, mainstream and underground. 

Big Tank is the DJ and producer turned A&R, Sr. VP, and Music Supervisor. With an extensive career in the music industry as a producer for Missy Elliott’s “One Minute Man” the decorated Music Executive has worked with Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Fabulous, Ne-Yo, Jermaine Dupri, and many more. 

I sold millions of records and I don’t know if a lot of people who are music supervisors have actually done that. But then also I’ve been an A&R at Universal and Sony. Sr. VP over at Sony so I understand how publishing works. I understand how to get records clear. I also, since I’ve been an A&R, I’ve signed talent, I’ve developed talent, I’ve produced vocals. I’ve done all that – and with this job I think I’m able to use all those different things,” says Big Tank. 

I’m able to not only produce records and make great records and produce vocals and whatnot but find unfound talent that no one has heard of yet. And that’s something that me and Lena really strive for and you know at the beginning of every season we want to try and find some talent that no one has heard of yet and give people opportunities that didn’t exist before. So, you know that’s something that me and Lena really focused on and I feel like we’ve done an amazing job at that,” he explains. 

As music supervisor for The Chi, Big Tank is responsible for selecting all of the songs and music you hear in any scene in the background while watching the TV show. He works with Wyclef as a composer making sure everything sounds great. It’s a role he takes seriously as music sets the tone for each scene and creates powerful emotions that viewers can literally feel. 

I do a bunch of shows and working with Lena Waithe is different because  Lena is a music head too! Lena’s got like things that are true to Lena and I had to learn those things. Lena loves a soulful voice. That’s why we use Donny Hathaway and Layla Hathaway. We have to use so much soulful, rich tones. Lena likes real talent so if you can for real sing, you know, not that she’s against auto tunes or anything like that. But if you have legit talent, sick talent – Lena f___’s with you. 

So, I had to learn that I wasn’t always the freshest thing as much as it was the most talented thing. I feel like Lena will side with talent over a fad – what’s poppin right now today. So if something is authentic and she can feel it and it gives her the chills and it gives me the chills. Um, man, I don’t do one episode of the show without Lena’s input, me and Lena getting on the phone or going through records or nothing. We call ourselves The Dream Team.” 

For more information on Big Tank, click the link to follow him on Instagram here


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