Sublime’s woozy, skanky ska-punk not only represents the “LBC,” but also ‘90s alternative at its most defiant and decadent. Coming out of Long Beach, California, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Bradley Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson, and drummer Bud Gaugh joined forces in 1988 and soon led the charge in spreading SoCal punk—an urgent, unruly mix of rebel calls drenched in sun, surf, and stoner philosophy—to unsuspecting suburban homes across the U.S. Sidestepping grunge’s moody rock template, Sublime slipped their hardcore melodies with rocksteady riddims, thick dub bass, furious record scratching, and savvy hip-hop sampling, and unabashedly washed it all down with cans of malt liquor—the titular inspiration for their self-released 1992 debut, 40oz. to Freedom. That album and its follow-up, 1994’s Robbin’ the Hood, are scrappy, lo-fi documents of coming-of-age revelations fueled by sex, drugs, and a voracious appetite for rock, reggae, and hip-hop. Sublime name-dropped Bob Marley and KRS-One, covered Grateful Dead and Toots & The Maytals, sampled Primal Scream and The Doors, and introduced Gwen Stefani (on “Saw Red”) at least a year before No Doubt began their rise out of Orange County. With 1996’s Sublime, the band made its launch into the mainstream with career-defining hits “What I Got,” “Santeria,” “Wrong Way,” and “Doin’ Time,” all of which reveal Nowell as a sharp, sincere poet of the times with his evocative tales of unfaithful lovers, broken homes, and the sun-dazed illusion of lovin’ and livin’ easy. These restless anthems would prove even more potent in the wake of Nowell’s death from a heroin overdose, just two months prior to the album’s release. That tragic loss effectively ended the band (aside from a reboot in 2009 as Sublime with Rome)—but certainly not their influence, which has since reigned over third-wave ska, rap rock, nu-metal, 21st-century genre-obliterators like twenty one pilots and Post Malone, and even Lana Del Rey.
ORIGINLong Beach, CA