Pink Sweat$ Tells Us The Secret To A Streaming Hit


When it comes to streaming hits, Philadelphia singer Pink Sweat$ is something of an expert. His breakout single, “Honesty,” racked up millions of streams across nearly every streaming platform, launching his successful career as a solo star after several years behind-the-scenes as a songwriter. Then, to prove that those numbers were no fluke, he nearly doubled them with his follow-up hit, “At My Worst,” and its remix featuring Bay Area singer Kehlani.

For the release of his Pink Moon EP, Sweat$ graciously agreed to a Zoom interview with Uproxx to reveal the secret to a streaming hit, what made each of his prior hits so special, and which songs from his new EP we should all be betting on to rack up the streams in the future.

We’re here to talk about what makes a hit, how to get a streaming hit. It’s something you should know plenty about what with your growing collection thereof.

Wow. Appreciate y’all having me, number one. To answer, I guess I would say it depends on what kind of hit you want, right?

Yeah.

Because I write and I produce, I try to steer people in the right direction, so it’s different kinds of hits. If you want a playful hit it usually can be tied to some sort of a movement, whether it’s a dance or some form of moving of the body that people can feel. And if you want more of a singer-songwriter hit, I think it’s just about the story and the storytelling ability because we all got a story, right? The way you articulate that story through a song, the effectiveness of it, that’s how you get ahead.

What do you think it was about “Honesty” that connected people? Obviously, you said songwriting, but each song kind of has its own personality. What do you think was the personality of “Honesty” that people were drawn to?

I would say it’s just the vulnerability and the relatability because I feel like the state of music, everything is like fantasy. Whether it’s rollies, chains, all these girls, all this overindulgence. That’s fantasy for a lot of people.

That’s not most people’s every day, but most of us are questioning who we are. Do we deserve this thing called love? Are we capable of loving? And I feel like it’s one of those things that we fill our day in a certain kind of way where we don’t have to think about it. We always got to be busy. Because sometimes when you’re sitting alone by yourself, you start wondering like, “Dang, is this how I want to choose to live my life?”

The first line of a song is “She said, ‘Baby, I’m afraid to fall in love.’” I feel like right there, you got people. It’s like, “Oh this is about to be a story. Like, where is this going?” Who’s not afraid to fall in love? Who’s not afraid to be vulnerable? Most of us are. It’s very few people that are just always jumping right in, and we always judge those people like, “Man, you love too easy.”

Absolutely. Now, “Honesty” was of course a smash, but then, you had to knock it completely out of the parking lot with “At My Worst.” What was it that drew people to “At My Worst?” And what kind of an effect did you see when you added Kehlani to the remix and that exploded even more? I always say that song is going to be our friends’ kids’ wedding song. They’re going to dance to that at their weddings.

Well that song, honestly, it was just me. I was tapping into what I know people wanted from me, and then I just elevated it. I wanted to give a perspective that was super vulnerable, but while the lyrics are vulnerable, but at the same time, the music is happy. It takes your guard down with the music. But then the words are seeping into you where it’s like, “Whoa!”

You know, I’m in a position in my life where things are well, I’m able to take care of myself, I’m able to help people, things like that. But at the same time…Someone can see me and be like, “Yo man, he living,” but you don’t really know the things that I deal with, because money can’t solve everything. But my partner does. And it’s like, I always wanted somebody to love me, despite my problems, my internal issues, the things that I struggle with mentally.

So it’s her not judging me, and I feel like, for a lot of people, we want that. We want to be loved at our worst, because it’s easy to say, “Yo, you’re up, you’re doing your thing. He got his mind on right. He got his bread right. He got a car. He got his own place.” It’s easy to do all of that. I feel like, especially for me, being a Black man, we’re always taught to go out and chase things and accomplish something, and then the world would be yours, but that’s the win and the downfall. Because of that pressure of, “Hey, well what if I can’t keep it all together all the time? Is somebody going to still love me?” So that’s what I wanted to get across, but I didn’t want it to be as heavy as me just saying it just now.

So you got your Pink Moon EP coming out. If you could pick two of the songs to blow up from this EP, that you think are going to be the ones, which ones would they be? And would you be surprised if it were a different one?

That’s a great question. I would say “Real Thing,” since that’s the first song I made for the project. Me and Tori Kelly on that, and then another one is called “Better,” me and one of my favorite artists, her name is Kirby. Those are the two that I really, really, really love. And I got another one. I know you didn’t ask me three, but the third one is the Blxst song. It’s called “For Me.” That’s just because it’s like a manifestation song and also a letting-everything-go song. I feel like when I wrote that song, I was in a place of stress where it’s like, having conversations with my label, having conversations with my peers, trying to understand the climate of music, because it’s always changing. I was just stressing myself out and it was like, “I never do this, why am I tripping? What’s for me is for me.”

Blxst is on a roll. Everything he’s on is just like, it knocks to the high heavens. Yeah, man. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this thing does.

I want to get a gospel award for that song, because technically, that’s an inspirational song. I’m putting that out in the atmosphere for sure.

Of course, “Nothing Feels Better” seems to have taken off. Again, what do you think that one says that people are tapping into, and how do you intend to take that momentum forward into the next one? Do you go left or do you stay the course?

I feel like that’s like an adoration song. I’m just showing mad love to my partner, where it’s like all the things in the world that can go right, they don’t really feel the same as just knowing that at the end of the night, I got somebody to turn to. All the things that I deal with throughout the day, just having somebody to go through all those ups and downs with, that’s like a euphoric feeling. We might argue one day, then in the same day we’d be laughing about, “What was we even… It wasn’t that deep. Nothing feels better than this.” The certainty of love.

I feel like it’s not really a lot of songs that popularize adoring people and telling them how great they are. It’s always about tearing somebody down or doing some drugs or something. To each their own, but I just feel like I want to just mix it up. I’m not trying to say “get rid of this” or “get rid of that.” I’m just saying we need some more of this too. It’s like putting all the salt in food, but maybe put some pepper in there. Maybe use a little honey. I don’t know, but we need more than just salt as an ingredient. We need to mix it up.

Pink Sweat$ is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.



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