4PM (For Positive Music)

4PM (For Positive Music)

    Baltimore based quartet 4PM (For Positive Music) jumped onto the music scene in a big way in late 1994 with a top ten hit, but was never able to replicate its initial success and quickly faded from view.

    Formed in 1991 by Roberto Pena, Jr. and Reney (Ray) Pena along with longtime friends Larry McFarland and Martiz Ware, the group was originally named IV Real.  Known around Baltimore for their tight, a cappella harmonies, 4PM won a number of talent shows and ultimately signed with New York-based Next Plateau Records.

    Their debut album, Now's the Time, featured an irresistible, partially acappella cover of the pop classic "Sukiyaki."  It shot into the top 10.  Unfortunately, while the group boasted solid harmonies and an attractive, upbeat lyrical message, the rest of the debut album suffered from a poor, muffled recording quality and, save a nifty remake of Culture Club's "Time," generally mediocre material.   The disc failed to crack the Top 100, but the group was nonetheless back in 1996 with a sophomore album, Light In The Dark.  Whatever chance that album had was lost with the closing of Next Plateau, and the label's problems kept the group out of the studio for several more years.  Ware left the group and the remaining members formed Pena Brothers Productions, self-releasing a third disc, 4PM, in 2000.  Admirably, the group kept its positive focus (avoiding degrading or vulgar lyrics), but the album failed to generate significant attention and 4PM's recording days were done for several more years.

    After nearly a decade away from the scene, 4PM resurfaced in 2008 with the self-released Music 4 the Masses. Several members are reportedly reuniting for a new album slated for 2023 release.

    By Chris Rizik