It’s very possible that Attrell “Prince Be” Cordes — who has died at the age of 46 of kidney disease, TMZ.com and other sources have reported — was the most underrated musician New Jersey ever has produced.
His group P.M. Dawn, a duo featuring him and his brother Jarrett (DJ Minutemix) Cordes, did have three Top 10 hits in the early ’90s: “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” “I’d Die Without You” and “Looking Through Patient Eyes.” Yet the Jersey City-based group never received the kind of respect that similarly groundbreaking groups such as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest did. Dreamy, psychedelic and philosophical, their music took hip-hop to places it had never been before.
Their were so ambitious that they could seem pretentious — their debut album was called Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience — and unlike virtually all of their hip-hop peers, they had no interest in proving how tough they were. They seemed to come from some other plane, altogether.
But they made some of my favorite music, ever, and one of my fondest memories as a music journalist was interviewing the soft-spoken, thoughtful Prince Be at the group’s Jersey City studio, for The Star-Ledger.
Their last widely available album came out in 1998; in recent years, Prince Be has battled diabetes and a stroke that has left him partially paralyzed.
Here is some great P.M. Dawn music to remember them by:
very very sad news. he was one of my absolute favorites. terrific songwriter, beatmaker, and a beautiful singer, too.
Because Prince Be grew up (and still lived) in Jersey City, he was always eager to be interviewed by me for the Jersey Journal. “Rolling Stone is okay,” he told me, “but my mom reads the Jersey Journal.” So I got to interview him several times, every time a new record came out, and he was always warm, gracious, forthcoming, and a real delight. I also loved those records, and I agree, his gentle soul ran counter to the prevailing wave of gangster rap and he was never properly appreciated in his time. But I think people will listen to those records in the future and appreciate them.