Attrel “Prince Be” Cordes, founding member of the chart-topping hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn, died Friday in a New Jersey hospital following a battle with renal kidney disease. He was 46. A representative for the group confirmed Cordes’ death to People.
“Prince Be Rest In Peace forever more, Pain from Diabetes can’t harm you anymore,” Cordes’ cousin and P.M. Dawn member Doc G wrote on the group’s Facebook page following Cordes’ death. “My Heart is at Peace B-Cuz U suffered so long, Tell Grandma I said Hi & Stay Blisstatic & Strong.”
Formed by brothers Attrel and Jarrett “DJ Minutemix” Cordes in their native Jersey City, New Jersey in 1988, P.M. Dawn became only the third hip-hop act ever – and first black rappers – to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991 with their single “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” which revolved around a sample of Spandau Ballet’s “True.” The band’s critically acclaimed 1991 debut LP, Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience, achieved gold status, as did its well-received follow-up, 1993’s The Bliss Album…?.
P.M. Dawn once again climbed to the upper reaches of the Hot 100 again – Number Three – with their ballad “I’d Die Without You,” which gained popularity after first appearing on the 1992 soundtrack for the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang. The track later featured on The Bliss Album…? alongside “Looking Through Patient Eyes,” another Top 10 hit and a cover of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown).”
The Cordes brothers released two more albums in the Nineties, 1995’s Jesus Wept and 1998’s Dearest Christian, I’m So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad, neither of which attained the critical or commercial success of its predecessors. Although health problems stemming from diabetes took its toll on Prince Be – he suffered a stroke in 2005 that paralyzed the left side of his body, and his one of his legs was amputated below the kneecap – but P.M. Dawn continued to have a considerable impact on contemporary hip-hop, including its “cloud rap” offshoot.
“Kanye West, T-Pain, Outkast… but you can’t mention P.M. Dawn without mentioning De La Soul, and you can’t mention Arrested Development without mentioning P.M. Dawn,” Doc G said in a 2011 interview of the artists P.M. Dawn inspired. “Everybody begets somebody. We had the weirdness. Now it’s okay to be weird; it’s okay to wear bizarre things.”