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01-27-2005, 04:00 AM

P.M. Dawn delivers 'Dearest'

Gee Street Set Reflects New Sounds, Thoughts Following Childbirth

LOS ANGELES-Dr. Spock would say the birth of a child is perhaps the most life-altering experience for the parents. PM. Dawn's Prince Be would agree.

"PM. Dawn was all about flowers and peace and all that esoteric stuff, but the birth of my son changed everything, including how I view my career," says Prince Be, who became a father again when his wife gave birth to twins last January

"When you first have a kid, you are overjoyed," he says. "After a few weeks, I started sweating the harsh reality of the world, and I didn't know if it was fair of me to bring a child into that without being able to protect him."

After two years of work with his brother/partner J.C./The Eternal, Prince Be offers his philosophies, advice, and hope on the band's fourth album, "Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad," due Oct. 6 on Gee Street/V2 in the U.S. and Oct. 12 internationally

"Making this record helped me sort out my feelings. It's heavier than our old stuff," Prince Be says. "There's no way to miss the point. From the title, to the song names, to the lyrics, it's blunt and self-explanatory."

But not so intense people won't like it, assures J.C. "We may be talking serious, but we don't forget to get jiggy. There's still the catchy pop hooks, samples, and RB melodies people expect. We also worked with a more live feel, so my role broadened. Not only did I sift through piles of records for samples, but I arranged string sections and played instruments. It's time for the public to get reacquainted with us after three years. We couldn't just do the same old thing." Some might view the departure as risky, because that thing they did was quite successful. The duo's 1990 debut, "Of The Heart, Of The Soul And Of The Cross: The Utopian," which peaked at No. 48 on The Billboard 200, has sold 782,000 copies, according to SoundScan. It was followed by 1992's "The Bliss Album...?," which has sold 606,000 units and peaked at No. 30 on The Billboard 200, and 1995's "Jesus Wept," which sold 88,000 units and peaked at No. 119 on The Billboard 200. "I wasn't expecting anything much, but listening to the record changed my mind," says urban music buyer Violet Brown of the Torrance, Calif.-based Wherehouse Entertainment. "This is pop with substance. Lovers of urban alternative artists like Erykah Badu and top 40 people like George Michael and Culture Club could really get into this. Fans from before will come back, and new ones will be gained." To help other retailers feel this pumped about the Georges Sulmersmanaged act, V2 president Dan Beck has been meeting with accounts like Musicland, and the company has issued flats with new and old album art and promotional video and CD retrospectives. A $19.98 greatesthits video with a never-beforereleased track will be available commercially the same day as the album's release in the U.S. And PM. Dawn is expected to be in Europe in September for promotion.

"Our focus is the music and how we can use it to reintroduce this band and get people to go out and buy the album," says Maria Ma, Gee Street senior director of marketing. "Most people have good memories but don't know where the act has been. The good thing is that the profound subject matter is what the aging audience is experiencing as well. That's not to say PM. Dawn isn't relevant to the contemporary music scene. In fact, they wrote a song for the Backstreet Boys."

Ma says radio will be key in breaking "Dearest." The first single, "I Had No Right," which will be available commercially starting Tuesday (8), was shipped to R&B, AC, top 40, and crossover stations in midAugust. The accompanying video, shot by Charles Stone, was put into VHI rotation Aug. 31, and MTV is expected to follow shortly

"The song has as much mass appeal as any one of their old hits, and we are always looking for good songs to spin," says Tracy Austin, assistant PD/music director at top 40 KIIS Los Angeles.

The act has a legacy at radio, although it has been quite some time since PM. Dawn has scored a hit. Among its radio successes are "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss," a 1991 No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 Singles chart; "I'd Die Without You," No. 3 in 1992 on the Hot 100; and "Looking Through Patient Eyes," No. 6 in 1993 on the chart. Austin says PM. Dawn's past is neither a help nor a hindrance. "It doesn't necessarily help to have a history anymore. It's more a songby-song basis these days. But I don't see it as a hindrance when the material is great. Unfortunately, the long title doesn't make for an easy on-air plug." According to Broadcast Data Systems, 45 of 146 reporting top 40 stations were spinning "I Had No Right" by Aug. 25. "Geographically, we have support across the country It's shaping up to be a huge hit to put them back on the map," says Ma.

At last July's BMG conference, the band had a chance to preview new songs, which are published by MCA Publishing (ASCAP), Train Publishing Plan/Carlin America (ASCAP), Essex Music International (ASCAP), Chotre Music, and Windswept Pacific Songs (BMI). Gee Street has set up several radio station-sponsored gigs throughout the fall in Portland, Ore., Philadelphia, Miami, and Washington, D.C.

The label also hopes to have the band, which is currently interviewing booking agents and rehearsing a full band, out for a national tour by January "We've toured before, but this will be the first with this kind of band. No need to worry, though; we'll bring the hits with us," J.C. says.

Prince Be adds that the songs were written with a band, so the live product should be better. "Before, it was harder to translate the heavy samples into an entertaining live show. This proves we are real musicians." Although he didn't write the album with sales figures in mind, Prince Be doesn't mind if people dig "Dearest."

"Hell yeah, I want the tour and the CD to be popular. I got dumb bills," he says. "At first, I just needed to get stuff off my chest. Now that it's done, we're ready to rock the party."


When the group PM Dawn first came out with spiritual raps 12 years ago, its members found that they had encouraged preachers of many denominations to say things like: ''Wow! Christian rappers. See? You can be cool and be a Christian.''

A Christian rap group? Is this an oxymoron or what? PM Dawn is neither machine-made nor vituperative. It doesn't scream in your face, it whispers in your ear. It is made up of Prince Be, or B, and his brother DJ Minutemix a.k.a. JC/The Eternal, depending on which year and album you're referring to. They were born and raised in Jersey City as Attrell and Jarrett Cordes.

PM Dawn's fourth and latest album, ''Dearest Christian,'' which comes out in October, is more adult-oriented than the others, and it carries the dedication: ''I'm so very sorry for bringing you here. Love, Dad.'' At the time, Prince Be was busy asking himself, ''What's wrong with this place?'' ''Christian'' is the name of his 4-year old son.

He learned that he was also the father of twins in January, when the hospital called the studio in the middle of a recording session. ''You should have seen the look on his face,'' JC said with brotherly compassion. ''All of a sudden he had this huge responsibility. I knew it was heavy.''

''Three kids, not one,'' Prince Be thought. He could ''no longer use music as a vent.'' Now it would have to be ''a tool for dealing with reality. It was time to take a closer look. I had no choice. I had to deal with reality, even though I prefer fantasies. I prefer 'Alice in Wonderland' to 'Riot in Cellblock H.'''

PM Dawn's previous albums were about fantasies: ''We had a song called 'Reality Used to Be a Friend of Mine.' It couldn't stay fantasy anymore because it was not just about me anymore.''

He had felt like apologizing to the kids, and that is on the album too: ''They weren't really thought out, planned out, it wasn't for their good. I didn't say this is a nice world to bring kids into. It was pretty egotistical on my part. But now that they're here they got to eat. I'm not allowed to not deal with reality any more.''

''Misery in Utero'' is a sad song: ''I've got enough hatred to last me a lifetime.'' He's always had an ''awful relationship'' with his parents. He wanted to figure out how it got so bad: ''I didn't want my kids and I to end up hating each other. I didn't want to make the same mistakes my parents made.''

What's this? Family Values rap? Although PM Dawn markets its product as rap, if comparisons must be made it sounds more like a cross between Michael Jackson and the Beatles (with touches of Prince and even the Beach Boys, if you can believe it) than Ice-T. It's all derivative, but the tunes are tuneful and the voices are urgent, breathless, caressing and sincere.

What does an acoustic guitar have to do with rap? Never mind, maybe the record is just in the wrong bin, a misplacement of product. Or it might be an outright misnomer. When you get right down to it, who cares? If this is what rap has come to sound like, God bless.

Their bio describes their sound: ''Melodic soul, jazzy guitar solos, and sometimes just finger snaps with acoustic guitars and voice can help smooth over some patches of life's dark, bumpy road.'' Amen. It quotes the press about their previous album, ''Jesus Wept'': Giving it four stars, Rolling Stone called it ''pillow-soft pop, moody psychedelia''; the Los Angeles Times said, simply: ''Groundbreaking.'' And the respected critic Dave Marsh said, ''It has the rich intensity of 'Revolver','' by the Beatles.

''Our songs could fit anywhere pop, rap, R&B,'' said Prince Be. ''A lot of rap artists did not know how to deal with this sort of thing. It got confusing for people.'' Rap has been growing in popularity and crossing over every which way to reach more and more kinds of kids in different places and of different races and classes. Something must have been added along the way new branches, styles and subject matter. Lauren Hill and the Fugees feature sweet-talking R&B. PM Dawn seems to be next.

The more you think about and hear it, the more you wonder why it didn't happen earlier. In the context of contemporary American culture, why not spiritual rap? Attrell and Jarrett's mother sang gospel in their living room in Jersey City and neighborhood kids sat on the stoop listening to her. ''Your ma sure can sing,'' they said.

There's certainly no need for a parental guidance sticker on ''Dearest Christian.''

RM. DAWN I Had No Right (4:is) PRODUCERS: PM. Dawn WRITERS: A. Cordes, C. Anderson PUBLISHERS: MCA/Gee Street/Famous, ASCAP Gee Street/V2 33534 (cassette single)

It has been far too long since this act has shared its unique blend of soul/pop. On this first peek into their new album, "Dearest Christian . . . ," the lads reveal a matured approach to melody construction. They still wax warmly poetic about life's daily struggles, and they still delight in wrapping their music in lush, almost orchestral instrumentation. Will pop programmers living on a steady diet of boy groups and hip-hop have a taste for such a gourmet musical treat? Justice prevailing, they will. Regardless, sophisticated listeners craving a superior ballad should not wait for radio to tell them to embrace this gem. They should simply seek it out themselves.


Faith in You

Radio hasn't been a cozy partner with this once-on-top act of late, but this track has the potential to turn top 40's head and get it nodding again. The duo's dreamy sound is instantly recognizable, the beat and melody comparable with past works, and the message typically positive and spiritually uplifting. PM. Dawn ups the ante here with a Backstreet Boys-style smooth-and-breezy mix by J.J. Flores and a slightly trippy, more beat-heavy radio edit that pushes the vocal to the front; the latter probably represents its best shot for radio action. All is pleasant enough here, and dedicated fans will be pleased. But to push "Faith In You" above the crowded realm of today's top 40, PM. Dawn might just have to press itself to the next level in terms of creativity

01-27-2005, 07:08 AM
Cool transcript. Thank's
I still am bewildered why so many main stream publications consistantly give rave review's for all their albums. Escpecially Rolling Stone.
Yet, The "Main stream" could never see them as anything other than a rap group...and now just some band from some obscure little bleep in pop culture.

01-27-2005, 08:12 PM
Cool transcript. Thank's
I still am bewildered why so many main stream publications consistantly give rave review's for all their albums. Escpecially Rolling Stone.
Yet, The "Main stream" could never see them as anything other than a rap group...and now just some band from some obscure little bleep in pop culture.

because "the mainstream" never listen to the albums.. they will hear 1 single on the radio and judge them by that

01-28-2005, 06:42 AM
I guess I'm just in denial about their denial HieroHero.

A music fan at Amazon.com 2004 This is they're last full length commercial release. They released a thousand or so copies directly to fans of another album. But they were forced to stop because of sampling/legal issue's. Dearest Christian... is beautifully honest and very well crafted smooth pop music. Original lyric's, beautifully arranged music. I wouldn't say it is dark...just very sad at times. But there is so much that breaks through that keeps it from ever becoming dark. The album ends with Prince Be talking softly and candidly with his son whom is trying to pull him away from his work in the studio... "Are you finished with you're la la's da da?" ... "yeah, I'm finished with my la la's." very sad ending. All the stores I've checked over the last year or so have even pulled they're P.M. Dawn tags from the cd racks. If this is they're last effort. It was they're best.

01-28-2005, 07:21 PM
it was an amazing album thats for sure

01-29-2005, 05:46 PM
Here, Here!