Pink Sweat$ talks his quick rise to fame and disproving stereotypes

The Philadelphia up-and-comer shows confidence and promise as he wraps up his first-ever tour

Pink Sweat$ is tired- and justifiably so. The R&B singer is curled up in a ball on the cement floor of L’Astral, recognizable only by the heap of pink hues that make up his figure. He is sound asleep despite the sound check for guitar and drums happening feet away from his toes. As the Montreal date marks the second-to-last show of his Pink Beginnings Tour, the up-and-coming talent recoups his energy where he can, harvesting it for when the lights dim and all eyes are on him.

The Philadelphia-native may be new to touring, but his wide-scale exposure came quick. The former songwriter garnered a buzz with the release of his 2018 debut EP Volume 1 and the success of its single “Honesty,” only to carry on with the momentum with its successor, Volume 2.

The acoustically-driven R&B sound that distinguishes Pink Sweat$ from the rest of the league’s top contenders is not his only differential. The artist describes himself as a brand – encompassing everything from his music, his stage name, the pink aesthetic that surrounds him and the barriers he’s trying to break in a hyper-masculine dominated industry.

“We’re just trying to break the toxic masculinity vibes,” he says, draped from head to toe in his own pinkgang merchandise and fuzzy sandals strapped over his pink Cam’ron high socks. “I think it starts with one thing and leads to another, so like, how men view men, versus how men treat women. It’s all a trickle down effect, y’know? Pink, at the end of the day, is just a colour. If you have an issue with someone wearing a colour… you’re assuming someone’s this way or that way, based on the colour of their hoodie or clothing. That’s kind of weird.”

Pink Sweat$ performs in front of a floral display to a sold-out show on June 12. Photo by Jacob Carey.

Apart from dealing with the connotations associated with the colour pink, Pink Sweat$ also notes that his brand struggles with stereotypes that come along with being a black male artist.

“Literally, people be thinking I’m a rapper,” he laughs. “Or they’re just like, ‘what kind of music do you make?’ And then they hear the song and they’re like ‘this you?’ It’s not even a racist thing, it’s just programming. That’s how you’re programmed.”

A near-death experience with achalasia, a serious condition that affects the esophagus, was the turning point in Pink Sweat$’s career where he would transition from songwriter to singer. However, he says he wishes that he hadn’t needed to rely on such a traumatic experience to push him to follow his passion and that more black male artists would readily embrace their talent.

“You don’t have to follow every trend to be successful,” he continues. “That’s not being an artist. Behind the scenes, a lot of black male artists are always compromising because they don’t believe that there is a monetary value in their art… Once people find their confidence to just ‘do them,’ and they’re actually talented, usually that’s when you win. It’s just that inner thing. Once that key goes in, it locks, and you feel it.”

Hours later, Pink Sweat$ demonstrates that aforementioned confidence on stage as he performs to a sea of pink hoodies and pink bandanas. Despite performing only six shows before heading out on tour, the showman shows no signs of being a rookie on stage. His vocals sound as raw as they do on his projects, while his impromptu drum kit solos show that he was a musician long before being a singer. However, Pink Sweat$’s most magnetic characteristic may be his onstage charisma, shown most evidently when he asks two fans from the audience to get on stage and sing a song of their choice to the crowd in front of them, encouraging them to shout out their Instagram handles to give their singing careers a boost.

As Pink Sweat$ performs the entirety of his two EPs, the artist promises that new material is coming soon, despite being on the road.

“Now we’re trying to get the production to the optimal level,” he says. “All the writing, foundation production, I think I did most of it already… I don’t want to be stagnant just ‘cause I’m on the road like ‘Oh, I’ll get to it in two months.’ I’d rather someone be working on it now so by the time I get back, I can make the critiques and do the things I need to do.”

With an upcoming debut album and the recent release of the music video to “Coke & Henny, Pt. 2,” Pink Sweat$ shows that he likes to stay busy.

“I’m just looking forward to getting these notches under my belt,” he says. “Experiences. Every show. No matter it’s small ones, big ones. It’s like ‘Alright cool, let’s do that, boom.’ I’m just trying to get as much experience and knowledge as fast as possible so I can be the best at what I do.”

With all his recent experiences and knowledge being absorbed in such a short time, Pink Sweat$ remains a prime example of how quickly confidence, faith and self-love can propel one to fame. However, he knows that staying busy and releasing content is essential to longevity, as one can easily be forgotten just as quickly as they were discovered.

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