Sublime became a popular band, but may not have reached the potential in front of them due to the untimely death of frontman Bradley Nowell cutting their output short at just three Sublime albums. These three Sublime albums, though, bring forth a uniquely Californian blend of punk, reggae, ska, and hip-hop, a mash that could only have been born on the shores of Long Beach. Here are the three Sublime albums produced before Bradley Nowell's untimely death, crossing genres to create a sound that is utterly, uniquely Sublime.
- "40 Oz. to Freedom." Sublime had been around a few years, starting out as a typical garage punk band, before molding the sound present on the first of the Sublime albums. A stew of dancehall reggae toasting, California-style skatepunk in the vein of comrades Pennywise, and up-tempo ska, with horns on some songs, this debut is a fan favorite, though it is not as streamlined as later releases. The catchy anti-sexual-assault anthem "Date Rape," brought Sublime to a larger audience, and potheads the world around enjoyed their covers of "Two Joints" and the Dead's "Scarlet Begonias."
- "Robbin' the Hood." The second of the Sublime albums took the next step in their development, merging the ska and punk sounds together to create something that sounded, at the time, truly original, though it's been imitated by many younger bands raised on Sublime albums. It also took their love of reggae further, with a cover of "Stepping Razor," a song written by Joe Higgs and popularized by former Wailer Peter Tosh being the album's major highlight.
- "Sublime." The last of the Sublime albums recorded before Bradley Nowell's death was, sadly, their biggest triumph, with single "What I Got," an acoustic ditty layered over a hip-hop beat, becoming a massive hit announcing a great songwriting voice that went before its time, as by the time the album was released, Nowell had already died of a drug overdose. This self-titled finale covers all of the Sublime bases, with filthy, jokey reggae ("Caress Me Down"), urban-influenced hip-hop ("April 29, 1992") and catchy ska hits ("The Wrong Way" and "Santeria"). It is the best of the Sublime albums, and a success enough that a lot of inferior, posthumous knockoffs and rarities collections followed.