It’s been over a year since Silk Sonic first graced the stage together at the 2021 Grammys. The duo hasn’t missed since. “Leave The Door Open,” “Skate,” and “Smokin’ Out The Window” are all hits, they just won big at this year’s Grammys. Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have made their supergroup work in ways that few haven’t.
No ego chemistry
Anderson .Paak was Bruno Mars’ opening act on the 24K Magic World Tour. Bruno Mars is the Super Bowl headlining, Grammy-dominating superstar. Meanwhile, .Paak is immensely talented but has yet to reach the same mainstream success. On its surface, Silk Sonic does more to boost the less-popular artist. That distinction can often create a power imbalance between two collaborators, but that hasn’t been the case. The pair feel like they are on equal footing as Silk Sonic.
I rarely feel that way with other duos. I often thought about Jay Z’s past superduo collaborators. Jay and R. Kelly famously canceled their Best of Both Worlds Tour due to growing tensions. Jay Z and Kanye West’s issues on the Watch The Throne Tour were also well documented.
But even other frequent collaborators who get along fine, like the What A Time to Be Alive duo Drake and Future, never felt equal. I saw Drake and Future together on tour in 2016. It felt like Future “joined Drake on stage” at the Summer Sixteen Tour, not the other way around.
The desire to create something new
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak approached this album, An Evening with SIlk Sonic, as a way to create a sound that they wouldn’t have created individually. Bruno Mars has had a funk and soul vibe before on “Uptown Funk” and “24K Magic,” but not to the level he has on this album. Meanwhile, Anderson .Paak has tapped into an alter-ego character persona in a way that he hasn’t on other albums.
Creating something truly unique takes work. Fans know when both artists bring their best work forward. We all know a throwaway verse or a leftover beat when we hear it!
The live performance advantage
Live shows are bouncing back after the pandemic shutdowns. But since many major artists wants to go on tour in the next 24 months, it creates a bind. There’s a limited venue availability for artists to perform at, and a limited number of shows that fans will attend in a given year.
Because of that, many major artists will tour together. But some of those artists touring together will seem random and unusual. They may still sell tickets, but that’s likely because of the people’s interest towards one of the artists, not because of their combined chemistry.
Silk Sonic is the opposite. Their collaboration created the opportunity for fans to witness them as individuals and as this combined group. It’s like seeing three acts instead of two. This should help them sell tickets in Vegas and eventually tour in a crowded landscape.
Read more about Silk Sonic in Rolling Stone’s The Soothing Sounds of Silk Sonic.