Pink Sweat$ brings emotion, love and authenticity into each one of his songs. The singer-songwriter describes his music as medicine. Sometimes you try a pill and it’s not for you, and your doctor might have to switch you to something else. Luckily for him, most who give his music a shot become fans.
Before the music, the Philly native was your average high school kid, working at Chick-fil-A with no burning desire to go to college. With mama nudging him to do something with his life, he found himself taking acting classes, which actually gave him the confidence boost to take a leap of faith into the music game. He remembers crushing his first audition, which landed some money in his pocket.
His journey in music came significantly slower, however. “I don’t know how to read music, I don’t really know a lot of songs,” he says. “I just know how to feel and make music.” His main goal is to spread love, positivity, and good energy — which flows naturally through his sound.
With his breakout single “Honesty,” and a music video currently sitting at over 13.9 million views on YouTube not even a year after its release, Sweat$ earned the attention of music-lovers all across the world. In reality, the emotional ballad is just a teaser for the rest of his work, which includes his most recent EP, Volume 2.
What kind of music do you believe you make?
My music is for people who don’t mind their emotions in life. They might cry, get in their feelings, but usually you just feel human. Not like a robot who just turns up. My music offers balance in the ecosystem of music right now. Not to say “don’t turn up, don’t listen to this,” because I listen to all that shit — it’s just balance.
Somebody said a lot of artists sound like they only listen to what they make (the genre). A lot of rappers sound like they only listen to rap, that’s not even how rap started. Think about samples, you got to know other music to sample something. It made me think: when I make music, I want people to sample my shit. I want these motherfuckers to be like “yo, flip that.” [laughs]
How would you describe your sound?
My music is easy listening. Very simple and airy, not a lot going on. It’s spaced enough so you hear the music and the vocals all in the perfect timing of each. It’s so unfamiliar nowadays because everything’s beat-driven. I’m a producer as well, I like beats. It’s pretty cool when you can make a song with as little as possible and still hit people right in the heart. Like boom! They’re like “Ah!”
How often are you in your feelings?
I’m always in my feelings, 24/7. Whatever the situation is though, I surround myself around good people, good vibes and good energy. I don’t have to be in bad feels, luckily. I’m not upset all day or super crying, I’m always happy man. I enjoy the life I live. I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to live my dreams and share that all with my friends.
What was the moment you realized your dream came true?
This week when I went to London. Ha! I had to go do a showcase. I remember dreaming about going somewhere else. Sitting in my room in North Philly at the crib like, “Damn one day, one day, one day.” That one day turned into today.
How’s your fan base here in London?
I didn’t even know I had fans in London. All my shows in London already sold out, I didn’t even know. I saw one of the fan's DM said something about the London show. I’m like, “Yeah get a ticket, pull up.” They’re like, “It’s been sold out since you posted it!” I’m like, “For real?” Sad for them but happy for me.
How does being from Philly play into your life and career?
It makes me take responsibility for my culture and how people see and view black artists. For a long time, you [didn't] get a lot of diversity as far as what the world sees and knows is from Philly. I make it a point to say, “Yo I’m from Philly.” I lived in the same neighborhood as Meek Mill, but we different people. People see black people and think, “Oh he’s from here, everyone's the same for there.” No, it’s like anywhere in the world. Just 'cause you live in a hood or certain area, doesn’t mean you are this way or that way. It’s circumstance. Everybody's life journey is different.
Every time I think of Philly, I think of Meek…
Meek is the king for real. Nobody’s doing it at that level out of Philly as far as music right now. We got legends but the hot people right now, it’s definitely Meek Mill. Everybody knows Meek Mill.
You moved to L.A. six months ago. How would you describe that experience?
It’s like going to the NBA. If you at the courts in your neighborhood talking trash, like, “I’ll bust Kobe’s ass man, I could dunk on Jordan” — well go to the league! Go try out. Go to L.A. Go to these places where the best of the best are. Babyface lives in L.A. Jay-Z and Beyoncé got cribs together. Go where these people are and test yourself. “Am I really as good as I think I am? Let’s try and see.”
I was at the Fonda for Summer Walker and saw Janiyah’s reaction when she met you. I saw Lani posted “Honesty.” How are do you feel about the attention and fame?
It’s weird because I’m not really on the scene. I go out, but I don’t go out and be in the mix. I know my people and pull up, but I don’t go to other people’s scene. No house parties or nothing. To me, it’s just a testament of good music. People spreading vibes. Me and Kehlani are actually signed to the same publisher (APG). That connection was there, but nobody there connected it. She found me on her own.
What genre would “I Know” be considered?
“I Know” is essentially a country blues song. When I released it, I was kind of upset because it was only getting R&B support. Weird, almost no elements aside from my voice was R&B. But some of my fans don’t listen to country blues, so that opened them up. “Oh, this song is actually hard. I wouldn't typically listen to it but…” — that’s what I’m here to do.
What are your thoughts on the “Old Town Road” hype?
It’s cool but not gonna lie, it’s a lot. I don’t need to hear it as much as I do. I definitely appreciated the art of the actual music, that’s something I’ve been doing for years. Been mixing country and urban for a long time. It’s about timing. To hear it on the radio was cool, but there’s a lot of hype right now.
I love that your name’s inspired by rocking pink sweats and Cam’Ron. Why the dollar sign?
You don’t really make a lot of money when you first start songwriting. Early on, people were very manipulative. “Focus on the music, it’s not about the money.” But these people would be stealing from me. Weird shit. I developed this thing with the $ at the end: What I do is not all about the money, but the money’s in there. It’s the last thing, the last ‘s.’ All these letters in Pink Sweat$ represent “what I do is about what I love.” I love making music. Even if I didn’t make a dollar, I’d still be doing it. Since I chose it as a career, the financial aspect is important. It’s just not first.
That’s dope because most people would assume you’re going after the bag…
Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me. Do what you love, that’s quality of life. I don’t make music I don’t like, don’t work with people for money or clout. If I don’t want to work with someone, I don’t. It’s not about money, it’s about overall quality of life, 100 percent. To have a high quality of life, you gotta do things you enjoy. Make some money, sustain a lifestyle, that’s being a good businessperson in general.
How did your journey with achalasia [a disorder of the esophagus which makes it hard to push food to the stomach] mold you into the man you are today?
Achalasia gave me perspective on overall life. Made me think, “Man, is this really what I wanna be doing?” Some days I’d wake up thinking I don’t want to be here anymore dealing with this shit because it was so intense. I told my brother, “Don’t tell nobody,” cause I don’t feel like dealing with people and emotions, everybody always asking “are you okay?”
It kept progressively getting really bad. Every time I was drinking water, I had run to the bathroom. Nobody really knew why, they’re like, “Yo, you always in the bathroom.” I started feeling like my insides were deteriorating. Eventually, I went to a specialist my mom found.
You’re good now, right?
It’s a lifetime thing. It’s rare. It’s an elderly person disease — usually you don’t get that unless you’re 70, 80 years old. I’m 27, I've had it since I was 20. I don’t have the symptoms right now, I got a surgery. It’s an eye-opening disease because everything has to count. I started looking at my life like every decision has to count. Every song has to be the one.
You released Volume 2 this year. Why nameless?
That’s a good question. I was reading something about the energy and time people put into trying to find the perfect name. Everything you know was stupid until it succeeded. What the fuck is a McDonald's before McDonald's? It sounds dumb. Imagine going to your parents, asking for a loan. “Yo I want to open a restaurant!” They’re like, “Whatcha gonna call it?” You’re like “McDonald's!” What? Now, we look at it as a staple. It seems so normal because it’s succeeded.
Being a perfectionist, you take forever. You want it to be a perfect name. I’m like “how do I feel? What’s something I can always continue after this?” Volume 1. That way I can always do a volume, it can go all the way up to 100, 1,000, forever. It’s a very simple approach, that’s my whole thing. Even how I make music, I still use my 2012 laptop with a USB mic. Did that on purpose to show people. Fans hit me up like, “Man this is so hard, I can’t get in the studio.” Bro, I don’t even go to the studio! I just started going to the studio again to do my actual album but before then, all my shit is at the crib. I recorded at an Airbnb in L.A.
What can fans expect at the two L.A. shows?
Damn, that’s nuts. Expect to be surprised. A lot of the times you go to shows, and it’s just a show. They do something you’ve seen before. The element of my show, nobody can do like how we do it. The band and I, it’s unique to Pink Sweat$ overall. This is who I am, this is how I create. I bring that to the stage.
My first show in N.Y., we did this thing we do at all my shows now (I can’t tell you what it is). My set was only 15 minutes. I only had “Honesty” and the Volume One EP had only been out for 3 weeks at that point. Everybody was singing the songs, it was a moment. Every show lowkey, I’m chasing that high.
Pink Sweat$ performs at The Fonda on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 28 and 29.