Five Songs That Prove Why Sublime Still Matters

Categories: long beach

1. "Roots of Creation" (aka when reggae became the new punk, then it became the new pop)
"Roots of Creation" is a Sublime super-b-side that though hard to find, sums up a large part of the band's aesthetic by explaining Nowell's affinity for both reggae and Jamaican music as a whole.

"Roots of Creation" can best be described as Sublime's SoCal-punk ode to reggae. The song starts in with a pretty standard floor-and-bass drum rock rhythm and accompanying electric-bass riff that begins so many other punk songs of the time (see Fugazi "Waiting Room" and Dead Kennedy's "California Uber Alles"). But instead of the guitar coming in after the intro and starting the main melody of the song as ears have been trained to expect, "Roots of Creation" flips the predictable beat on its head and tears in with a syncopated reggae beat that accompanies an upstroke ska guitar sound. With this, the band musically rejects the simple punk songs on which Sublime was raised and replaces it instead with head-bobbing reggae aesthetic, an idea that is echoed throughout the song.

The title of the song itself is taken from a term within the Jamaican community that refers to reggae music as "the roots of creation." And Nowell--after being introduced the sounds as a young teenager while on a trip to the Carribbean with his father--latched on to this idea of reggae as the purest form of music. But reggae began as resistance music, a politicized voice for the working class in Kingston. And while Nowell at times did use music as a way to speak out against oppression and injustice (see "April 29, 1992"), he makes it clear in "Roots of Creation" that it is not reggae's political meaning, but its musical aesthetic that he is most attracted to.

Instead of using music to imagine a different political world as many early reggae artists did, Nowell was using it as a way to escape the trouble-and-strife-filled "boring nation" that he is living in. With its emphasis on the emotionally affecting power of reggae ("It's the sweet kinda music make me feel okay," Nowell sings), the song explicitly demonstrates why Sublime is so sonically different from all of the other similarly experimental reggae-punk fusion bands that came before.

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