Pink Sweat$ is R&B’s best kept secret

Philadelphia has spawned some of R&B’s most high-profile bands. Musiq Soulchild, Jazmine Sullivan, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, Boyz II Men, Jill Scott and more are all from the City of Brotherly Love. While these and other talents have spawned their own subgenres and won countless victories, it’s 30-year-old crooner Pink Sweat$ who picks up the slack.

Pink Sweat$ releases its first EP, Volume 1, in November 2018 and has since risen to prominence with the help of singles, “Honesty”, “17” and “At My Worst”, which have amassed nearly a billion streams alone. More recently he co-authored and produced three records, “LOVE”, HOME” and “MEMORIES”, on John Legend’s latest album, Legend. Although the singer channels a certain level of vulnerability and sings about love with the mystique of 70s and 80s classics, you wouldn’t guess he couldn’t listen to secular music growing up in a strict religious home. .

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“I’ve never told this story before, but if I had headphones on and my dad could hear it was something he didn’t like, he’d be like, ‘Yo, your music is too loud. I shouldn’t be able to hear this secular music you’re listening to,” he explained backstage at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif., before his first set on Alicia Keys’ tour.

Although he was a somewhat rebellious child who was not keen on following the rules, he still had strong morals and a good heart. He took that foundation with him, so he remains mindful and intentional when it comes to his music, not regretting that he wasn’t the artist his parents thought he would be.

Sweat$ and I quickly bonded trying to make sense of his “silent storm” fame, his certified love boy status, and our shared love for Musiq Soulchild.

Fortunately, I am on my own path. There is no competition with what I do when it comes to this specific moment in time.

Pink sweatshirt$

VIBE: What’s it like touring with Alicia?

Pink sweatshirt$: Fun, man. She’s just super dope and always shows me love. The other day she came out and she said, “Yo, you really suck. You really went there, and it was just you and your guitarist, and you got away with it. He is a very positive and uplifting kindred spirit. I feel like we’re on the same kind of energy.

Who else would you like to work with in the R&B space?

Everybody. Nobody wants to work with me.

See, no. It’s crazy, and I find it disconcerting. I specifically chose this tour date because you were there.

I do not know. I feel like no one wants to work with me, probably because I’m not toxic and I’m like a silent giant I guess. This is my new sentence that I picked up.

Like a silent storm.

Yeah, because when you look at everything on social media, I’m not really loud there. But then when you go to my music, you’re like, “Oh, shoot. What? He has all these fans, and these songs are huge? For me, I just focus on the music, really. Maybe my peers are just like, yo, that’s not what they want to do because my brand is very uplifting and positive. It’s like R&B in this current state is more sexual or [many are] try to be like a rapper. Nobody’s really gotten into what I do yet [and] I feel like in the years to come, when it comes back… At least the feeling I’ll have is like, yo, I was part of the change to bring back the love songs.

When did you fall in love with R&B?

When I fell in love with R&B… No one ever asked me that before, [but] probably “I’ll Make Love To You” from Boyz II Men. I was definitely 10 or 11, and for me it had been a church song for a long time because my parents let me listen to it. It didn’t mean to me that it wasn’t. My dad never listened to any kind of R&B or anything, but for some reason he loved Boyz II Men, and that kind of got passed down to me. When I started learning songs and songwriting, I started studying Babyface [and] my brain would just go to that sound.

Where do you stand when it comes to men in R&B right now?

Fortunately, I am on my own path. There is no competition with what I do when it comes to this specific moment in time. I haven’t created any love songs, but right now I feel like no one is doing what I’m doing, and no one is even trying. From what I can see, at least. I’m going to create that space for the next person who wants to step in, and they don’t have to imitate me. They can be them because my stamp is what R&B is to me. It’s like no one really looks alike, if that makes sense. You have people like Lucky Daye, who I think does a good mix of old and new. So you have people who do. But when I talk about brand, positivity is just something you can’t lose with. And I feel like R&B, you don’t see a lot of people doing business with brands. I do a lot of contracts with brands, internationally and at home too. Like, how do I get the maximum exposure on all fronts?

So you’re offering “certified boy love without the toxicity” and now that you’re a newlywed, how would that impact your next project?

Honestly, I don’t know exactly. I feel like I’m always trying to push myself and the genre as a whole, because a lot of times it’s either one thing or the other. So I’m trying to formulate moments. Every song, I want to be a moment in time, where it’s like a time capsule of how I feel and what I’m dealing with at that exact moment. And if it ends up being like a “Lay Up N Chill” and then a country western song, and then a love song… I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m experimenting for sure.

I like that you don’t put yourself in a particular box.

Yeah, cause it’s all R&B to some degree, you know what I mean? The roots of R&B are the blues, and a lot of things borrow from it. So even though I did a country song, to me it’s still R&B. Because everything is rooted in the same thing.

Tell us the story behind your new single, “Lay Up N Chill”.

So my daughter is in the bedroom. My wife. [blushes] This song really came to have a good time. We relax, we start sipping and we realize that the mood is building, and it’s like, “Okay, I want to lay down and relax with you.” Anyone in a relationship or if you’re dating in general, sometimes you meet a person, and they have their character, like we all do. And once you start sipping, the characters start drifting away, and all of a sudden they’re saying things they weren’t saying before, they’re doing things.

The real one comes out of you when you’re drunk.

You’re like, “Okay, there you go.” You know I would like to make love [by Musiq Soulchild] more.

Like a blanket?

It would be fire. I feel like people are forgetting about Musiq. It’s so many people who don’t even know who he is, the new generation.

I don’t understand it.

This song “Love” is crazy to me. The lyrics, the melody. It’s like a conversation, but it also feels like a low-key tutorial.

Many of his songs are guides on how to love, and “Teach Me” is another.

(Sung) Oh my God.

You should all do this. Just make an EP Musiq/Pink Sweat$. That would be great.

It would be crazy. If I did “Love” with the guitar… (sung) What if it was still a hit? It would be crazy.

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