Commentary

In defense of Sublime

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Sublime is rap rock and rap rock sucks Few bands have been able to integrate the most basic ideas of hip-hop and rock together to create something listenable, even though so many music fans in the world love both genres and their varying and numerous branches. (See Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and the top of the shit heap, Crazy Town, for great examples of how this genre totally sucks.)

But Sublime was the perfect union of hip-hop and punk -- and they were definitely not rap rock. Perhaps it was the reggae influence that so seamlessly fused the band's many styles, but by combining killer samples and good beats with singable melodies and Brad's guitar, Sublime had it mastered. This perfect union was also due to the expert work of Michael "Miguel" Happoldt, the band's producer, unofficial fourth member and unheralded purveyor of the Long Beach sound. Miguel is like the fucking Rick Ruben of the O.C., doing what Ruben did at Def Jam (and with other acts, like the Beastie Boys) on a smaller scale through his own Skunk Records.

Sublime isn't punk The beauty in Sublime's catalog is its variation; punk, reggae, acoustic, sample-heavy tracks -- the band had and did a little bit of everything. And they weren't afraid to put all of these styles together on one record. What is more punk than that?

Plus, the band's choice of samples and covers helped create the legacy Sublime has to this day. From the bare acoustic rendition of The Melodians "Rivers of Babylon" to its speedy homage to Descendents' "Hope" to their startling Grateful Dead "Scarlet Begonias" cover (heavily featuring a sample from James Brown's "Funky Drummer") Sublime wore its roots on its sleeve. Oh and they wrote a great song about how fucking cool KRS-One is AND they sampled Minutemen's "History Lesson Part II." Which brings me to my next point:

Sublime wasn't punk enough to sample Minutemen One of the biggest telltale signs of a music elitist is someone who thinks they "own" a band. Never embraced by mainstream culture at all, Minutemen have long been "owned" by music snobs -- which is hilarious in this context because Sublime was cut from the same working class surf town cloth as Minutemen. Minutemen were from San Pedro; Sublime hailed from Long Beach, less than ten miles away. These bands had a lot in common when it came to singing about and speaking to their core audiences of working class folks, so it only makes sense that Sublime samples Minutemen.

Also, Minutemen's Mike Watt makes a cameo in Sublime's "Wrong Way." So there.

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies