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About Pink Sweat$

Growing up, R&B singer-songwriter David Bowden, a.k.a. Pink Sweat$, got the strange feeling that he couldn’t swallow. It started happening more, and more severely. Within a few years, he couldn’t even keep down a sip of water. It turned out to be a rare esophageal condition called achalasia. He had surgery and bounced back, but the experience lit a fire: He was going to speak his heart whether people listened or not.

Raised in West Philadelphia, Bowden spent his young life in an intensely religious community, hearing almost no secular music until he was in his late teens. Eventually he caught on to Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne, 50 Cent, and, in particular, Kanye West—an artist who, like Sweat$, embraces the conventions of his genre while also gently subverting them. (He has said that he stylizes his name “Sweat$” because he thinks money is important, but it isn’t the only thing, and doesn’t come first.)

After starting to make some headway as a songwriter, Sweat$ decided to become a performer—a shift he attributes, in part, to feeling too attached to his music to let it go. He released his first project, Volume 1, in late 2018, and followed it up with 2019's Volume 2—each one a sparse, pretty, beat-free R&B EP in the vein of slightly left-of-center crooners like Frank Ocean, SZA, and Khalid. “I had to take a big look at the kind of music I had been working on,” the Apple Music Up Next honoree said to Beats 1 host Zane Lowe about his bouncy, laidback, mostly acoustic style. “I'm just trying to expand people's palates for black music. That's as blunt as I can put it.”

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