Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
What a bummer this year is turning out to be for music. Now we've lost one of my all-time favorite R&B singers of the early nineties: Prince Be. For those of you who weren't interested in pop music circa 1991, Attrell Cordes (known as Prince Be) was one-half of P.M. Dawn, a creative, philosophical, and often quite spiritual duo that came to popularity at the turn of the decade. Whereas their contemporaries like Bell Biv DeVoe, Silk, Shai, and Boyz II Men mostly sang about sex, love, and more sex, P.M. Dawn cleverly wove in themes of nostalgia, loss, memory, and other observations of modern dystopia. Their music was deeper, more soulful, and it never felt like an act.
Perhaps their most incredible accomplishment, however, was their sampling of Spandau Ballet's "True" to create an artistic expression even better than the original. Rarely, if ever (in fact I can't even think of another example right now), does hip-hop ever sample a popular tune and improve upon the foundation. Usually it's just exploitative. But "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" is SUCH a good song that I find I often prefer it to "True"; and let me tell you something: I love me some Spandau Ballet. P.M. Dawn was always graceful in that way. They took care with their music. Even the ballad "I'd Die Without You" from the Boomerang soundtrack (the only good thing about the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry flop) was painful and penetrating, rather than just another mediocre expression of young angst.
Alas, now it's all just a memory. I'll be setting adrift this evening in homage. R.I.P. Prince Be.