“‘Doin’ Time’: A Key Ignorance of Sublime in Music Criticism”

All of Sublime’s songs, contrary to popular belief, especially by the self-titled album, were really different from each other, Bradley Nowell was sort of a changeling. He was many more things, too, there were many parts to him, and flashes of brilliances in certain songs of the Long Beach trio inspire more than enough to initiate a grateful “Cheers.” “What I Got” is an anthemic, off-the-cuff, unifying statement for the decades, but for whatever reason Nowell and the band garnered plenty of critical antipathy, probably for their prolificness and uninhibited muse.

“Praise” for the rapper P.O.S., over the years, has made the following caveat: “What he’s trying to do is almost impossible: combine hip-hop and punk.” Nowell’s unnoticed penchant for delivering just this Herculean feat is likewise a good example of underrated artistic aspects of the lead singer. With Nowell, the timbre is genuine, and he slips effortlessly into personas, even embracing the effeminate and damaged in “Doin’ Time”: “Oh take this veil from off my eyes / My burning sun will someday rise.” So disconcerting is this fledgling loop of literacy that he follows it with the colloquial retreat: “What am I gonna be doin’ for a while? Said I’m gonna play with myself / Show this town we’ve come off the shelf.” And it all works, and the stoner cosmos of Long Beach fade rhythmically into evening, once again. Marijuana wasn’t enough for Nowell, in the end, but “Doin’ Time,” for one, shows that providing a marijuana-based brand of balanced, harmonious cacophony wasn’t enough either.

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