In 1991, the Jersey City hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn released their debut album, which had a mysterious name “Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience,” and a sound that was just as strange and striking: dreamy and mysterious, though still packed with pop hooks. No one sounded quite like it before, and no one has duplicated it, since. They had a number of hits throughout the ’90s, including a No. 1 smash, “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” that makes good use of a sample from the Spandau Ballet song, “True.”
The Backstreet Boys covered the song on their 1997 album, “Backstreet’s Back,” undoubtedly generating a mountain of royalties for both P.M. Dawn’s Attrell Cordes (better known as Prince Be) and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, who are credited with co-writing the song.
P.M. Dawn has not released a studio album since 2000, and Prince Be and his brother-partner, Jarrett Cordes (J.C. the Eternal), rarely gets the respect they deserves in hip-hop circles, where their neo-psychedelic sound and lack of macho posturing make them perennially uncool. But P.M. Dawn’s four ’90s albums, which are all great, make them a strong contender for the greatest Jersey act of that decade.
(UPDATE: Prince Be died in on June 17, 2016, of kidney disease, at the age of 46).
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.