NEW PORT RICHEY — It seems like just yesterday that brother act P.M. Dawn was destined for the kind of sustainable success that would fuel the duo for decades.
Attrell Cordes (a.k.a. Prince Be) and younger brother Jarrett (DJ Minute Mix) were the toast of the pop music scene. Their single Set Adrift on Memory Bliss, sampled from Spandau Ballet's new wave hit True, became a huge hit that propelled them to the top of the international charts in 1991.
For the New Jersey-born duo, life was about as good as it could be. But after nearly a decade of flying high, things sort of went bust. Though subsequent singles Looking Through Patient Eyes, I'd Die Without You and Paper Doll were big sellers, none approached the epic success of Set Adrift. By the end of the 1990s, P.M. Dawn couldn't buy a hit, even though many music critics felt they were making the best music of their careers.
The next six years proved to be a trying time for the duo. Dropped by their record label, they lay low, turning their attention toward doing things their way. They built a home studio and resumed recording and mixing original material, touring only sparingly.
Then disaster struck. In 2005, Prince Be suffered a stroke, brought on by his lifelong battle with diabetes. Jarrett announced that he'd had enough and left to pursue a solo career.
Somehow, in the wake of the tumult, P.M. Dawn righted itself. A 2005 appearance on the hit NBC reality show Hit Me Baby One More Time let fans know that the duo was still alive and well.
"We never actually left," Prince Be said by phone this week. "It took us a while to figure it out. But once we realized we had to rely on ourselves, things gradually began to work out better."
The group, which now includes Prince Be's cousin, Doc G (Gregory Carr), has booked several dates in Florida and will perform at 9 tonight at the Bourbon Street Concert Club in New Port Richey.
Despite the heartaches suffered in the past, the singers say their melodic, R&B-infused brand of hip-hop seems to have finally found a lasting niche in the music world.
"The music was probably a bit ahead of its time," said Doc G. "You look at the hip-hop and rap from that period and you see that it got old real quick. People got tired of hearing about people getting shot. People want something with some substance to it, something that will sound fresh a few years from now."
The duo says that making chart toppers is no longer the focus of their art. Proof of that is reflected in a new studio album that features original material along with covers of songs by artists like Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"Our old record label would have never supported a project like this," Doc G said. "Whenever you needed them, they would just fumble the ball."
The singers say that though the financial rewards are far more limited these days, they are enjoying fans' renewed interest in their music.
"The fun is back," said Doc G. "We've been blessed by the people who have stuck with us through the years. Wherever we go, they show us a lot of love."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.