OK, just admit it. No matter how soft or hard you profess to be, when you first heard the sweet, Spandau Ballet blessed melody of “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” back in 1991, you couldn’t help but love it. And whatever expectations you had of Attrell "Prince Be" Cordes upon hearing his light-as-air vocals and spoken word-slash-rhymes were likely confounded upon first laying your eyes upon the uniquely adorned presence of the physically formidable frontman.
Indeed, defying expectations and challenging the status quo were hallmarks of Prince Be’s public and creative persona, and more broadly P.M. Dawn’s music and ephemeral career. A far cry from the streetwise, ego-driven disposition of their hip-hop counterparts at the time, P.M. Dawn’s unorthodox mix of urban bohemianism, quasi-religious undertones, and advocacy of a liberated human consciousness proved that hip-hop as a genre and community was evolving, the breadth and depth of the music continuing to earn loyal devotees not just in the states, but worldwide.
Prince Be’s short-lived yet highly publicized beef with KRS-One notwithstanding, the group’s success also opened the doors of opportunity for a slew of hip-hop acts (Arrested Development and Boogiemonsters, among others) that merged the cerebral and spiritual, and never felt the need to conform to the more hardcore dimensions of the art form.
Twenty-five years since P.M. Dawn arrived on the scene, and with much respect to the late Prince Be who passed away this year at the age of 46 from diabetes-related complications, the bliss lives on.