PINK PLANET

Pink Sweat$

PINK PLANET

“The idea of time when you're listening to certain songs, especially as a creator, it's like, 'Damn, are people going to still jam to this in 20 years?'” Pink Sweat$ tells Apple Music of the inspiration behind PINK PLANET. He was thinking about time—or, rather, timelessness—as he created the music that would make up his debut album, which traverses both genre and era; there are hints of '50s doo-wop alongside flashes of '80s maximalist pop, contemporary R&B next to traditional soul. It's emblematic of the Philly-born producer and singer-songwriter's continued expansion of his sound and style.
His early EPs, 2018's Volume 1 and 2019's Volume 2, were built around stripped-back acoustic guitars, a sound he says felt like “barstool” or karaoke night. Here, there's a much more lush and full-bodied instrumentation—some of which he contributed himself, including drums, keys, and bass. “This album I wanted to feel like Vegas almost, how they got strings and you have people dancing and flying through the ceiling. It feels more like that to me,” he says. “When I say Vegas, I also mean when you want to see legendary artists, people who will just live forever.”
PINK CITY “I started off with ‘PINK CITY’ because I wanted to set the premise of who I am and where I'm from. When you're from the struggle, a lot of times people focus on the details, but for me, I wanted to articulate a feeling, because my lows might not be the same as somebody else. But it also doesn't matter, because at the end of the day we all have a pink planet that we're trying to reach. 'PINK CITY' is that song that connects to the listener where it's like, whatever your struggles are, wherever you're from, that doesn't determine your success—that's just a beginning. It was super important for me to show people that, before we even dive all the way in. You don't have to become your circumstance.”
Heaven “When I wrote ‘Heaven,’ I was just thinking about the lifestyle that I really want, especially in a relationship, and that I do have. Being with somebody and just truly—a lot of times, it can feel like hell for people, not because it's so bad but because they're always hiding. They've always got pieces of themselves that they can't reveal. I feel like when you find love, that's essentially like heaven on earth because, no matter what, that person's going to accept and love you for who you are.”
Paradise “With ‘Paradise,’ it doesn't sound like it, but it's my interpretation of [Ne-Yo's] 'So Sick.' It's like the little percussion thing that they did—I just always liked it. I was inspired a lot by that song when it came to the production and how it made me feel. I wanted to make a song in my own way that wasn't necessarily the same but gave me the same feeling.”
Magic “I loved making that song. When I was coming up with the idea, I actually did it live. I was on the drums, I was singing at the same time, and I recorded it. It was just fun—it was like a little jam session. I was telling the guitarist, I was like, ‘Yo, play this line.’ And then as I was singing it, I heard my voice over top of the guitar and I was like, 'I should keep my voice in there with that.' Then I hopped on the bass, and after that, it just felt done in my head. There was a couple hands in the pot on that one, because I really wanted it to sound real lush. And that choir sound? I used Kanye's [Sunday Service] choir for that. They came in, and they was jamming.”
So Sweet “I just wanted to make a song that I feel like Marvin Gaye would have sang. If I was to sell it to him like, ‘Yo, bro, I got the perfect record for you’—that's kind of how I was feeling. I was just talking out my life like how I'd be talking to my girl and stuff, something that I'm just joking around with her, being funny and cutesy or whatever.”
Chains “That one was interesting. I went on tour, and I was kind of nervous because I was like, ‘Dang, I feel like me and my girl going to break up.’ We would just talk to each other, I would fly her to come out and she would come to the shows. She meshed so well with my whole band, and it just was fire. It was so fun. Then, we started having little disagreements, relationship stuff. But it wasn't the same as if I was dating somebody else, because I was just literally willing to work through whatever we got to work through. I just had this crazy idea about love—love is not self-serving. You don't do things with the hopes of a result back. Real love is when you just pour and empty yourself completely into something or someone. You got to become a slave to love.”
Interlude “I wanted to put it in there to give context. This might be some people's first time hearing about me, and a lot of questions that people have, I want the answer to come just right in time. This is my existence. I had to create all of this stuff in my mind. I had to diversify my musical palette through the radio. If you didn't have a fancy enough radio, you really don't even know who or what you're listening to. I would flip through the stations, something would catch my ear, and I'd listen to it. I didn't know who was singing.”
Beautiful Life “The whole production was originally very different, but we went back in and changed it up because I wanted to tap into what I listened to as a kid. The whole album gradually is going from soul, R&B, a little bit of hint of gospel choir to slowly entering to pop. That's the wide range of music that I enjoy. The first song I ever heard on the radio that I remember was 'She Will Be Loved' by Maroon 5. I didn't even know who Maroon 5 was—I just heard this song and it grabbed my attention.”
PINK MONEY “James Brown inspired that song. I was just talking my shit on that one. I wanted to just talk about the good things in my life—not about a relationship. When you come from the inner cities and stuff, everybody hears the rapper's side. That's more common right now, but you don't really hear a lot of singers talking about coming from the struggle and pulling up on the block in a new whip. I named it 'PINK MONEY' because I'm owning my reality—I built this. Me and my friends and my team, we built this pink money right here.”
At My Worst “That was inspired by my relationship and by my happiness. Like when life is going well, some people start anticipating the bad. I'm that kind of person where I'm so used to things going bad that when it's finally going well, it makes me nervous. I feel like I wrote that song out of that place where it's like my life is good, it's going well, but are you going to rock with me when it's not? If it ever gets to that point where it's not so great. Or even questioning myself—am I going to ride for this person? It's easy to love somebody at their best.”
17 “‘17’ was like my Black anthem. I wanted to revisit the time of the Black wedding songs. I'm thinking about getting married one day, and the more I think about it, I'm like, damn, if I want to use a wedding song that's widely known, in my mind, you gotta dig. Unless you're using somebody from the '90s, there's really not that many new artists that are at the top when it comes to songs you're going to get married to. It was so many songs in the '90s—Boyz II Men, they're from Philly, I'm from Philly. I got to give my people a song that they'll feel like, 'I wouldn't mind walking down the aisle to this.' I feel like the options today be so slim.”
Lows “It was really a song that was like a diary almost. It was things that maybe I didn't say to my girl, that I didn't know how to say to her. Sometimes I can be a hard person, because I was raised hard. My parents always wanted the best for me, so sometimes I'd take what was right for me and I'd put that on somebody else. That song was me saying that despite how I feel, I'm still going to be here for you. Despite if you wanted to leave because of how I am, I'm still going to be there when you come back, because the love is just real like that. I feel like sometimes, as a man, you can be overbearing. You want everything your way, and if that person leaves, it's over. But for me, I was just so open.”
Not Alright “‘Not Alright’ was my reality as a Black male. I felt like ever since I was young, I was always forced to grow up because of the world that I was living in. Especially because we grew up poor, so I was always raised to be like, ‘Oh, I got to be twice as better as the next person.’ In a way, it made me stronger, but at the same time it always made me feel a little bit alone. I wanted to make a song to show people the reality of the other side. I wanted to send that signal out there to a lot of people that I relate—even in my success, I still relate, I still feel alone a lot of times.”
Give It to Me “I would say ‘Give It to Me’ is just Michael Jackson on repeat. I went on a trip with my friends, and we had a ball. We was in the hot tub for probably eight hours, in the pool just floating and letting all our problems go. Then we turned on Michael Jackson, and we just danced all night. I remember going to the studio and I was like, ‘Man, I want to make something that feels like that,’ just musically, something that made me feel fun and carefree.”
Icy “I bought a chain; that's where it came from, really. That's like hood dreams stuff. I remember seeing dudes in my neighborhood that had a watch or cars, just diamonds or whatever. I was like, 'Man, one day I'm going to have that.' When I finally got it, it was an accomplishment. I didn't go to college. That was my reward, and it sounds bizarre, but it's a part of my culture, where I'm from, that's what we do. I feel like a lot of people shame that and they demonize it like you're wasting money, and I'm like, I'm not wasting money—I'm doing what I wanna do.”
PINK FAMILY “That was the last song I added on the album, and I added that one during quarantine. I was able to be still and think a little bit more in depth. I was like, ‘Man, I got this whole album, and my whole family is my influence.’ I grew up in church. My whole family—we the band, we the praise and worship, we everything. So it's like, how can I put out my debut album and not have them a part of it? I was also mimicking that time and era where people did do stuff with their family. Where I'm from, people did stuff together.”
At My Worst “[Kehlani] is just a queen. Her voice is special, the way it sits on a track. As a songwriter, I've always been a fan. Before I was an artist, I was a fan of hers. When we met two years ago, we always said we would end up doing something together. Back then, I was surprised she even knew who I am. We said, 'Yo, we got to work.' Usually that's just industry talk—we just say that—but we actually ended up doing it.”
Honesty “That's the one song everybody's probably already heard. They might have heard 'Honesty' on a clip on Instagram, attached to a video, and they might not know it's me, but they may hear the whole album, get to the end, and be like, 'Oh, wait, I know this guy!' It just adds a lot of texture and context to my growth in such a short period. I've only been an artist since 2018, July. That's insane.”

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