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‘Robbin’ The Hood’: Sublime’s Wonderfully Lo-Fi Second Album

The 1994 record celebrated the group’s varied influences.

Published on

Cover: Courtesy of Geffen Records

On Sublime’s second album, Robbin’ the Hood, the Long Beach group attempted to jam as many of their influences into 23 tracks as humanly possible. Though the band is widely associated with the punk-ska world, that hardly describes the scope here. Robbin’ the Hood has tributes to Smokey Robinson, a collaboration with Gwen Stefani, and Jamaican dancehall interpolations. And that’s just the beginning. There are also looped samples, field recordings, bedroom DIY outtakes with popping microphones and hand percussion, a surprising amount of 808s, blown-out vocals, and much, much more.

Opener “Waiting For Bud” kicks into gear with slacker-era guitar noodling and a meandering bassline, though the group straightens things out with a flip from The Doors’ “When The Music’s Over” and a Jazzmatazz Volume 1 loop from legendary rap producer Guru. The group then brings Primal Scream, Geto Boys, and Fat Boys together on “Steady B Loop Dub.”

Listen to Sublime’s Robbin’ the Hood now.

On “STP,” lead singer Bradley Nowell cribs a Smokey Robinson lyric, managing to recontextualize the crooner for post-punk reggae fans. He tosses off some lines from “I Second That Emotion,” singing, “Baby, you wanna give me kisses sweet, only for a night with no repeat. Baby, you wanna leave and never go, but the taste of honey is worse than none at all.” He doesn’t sound anything like Smokey, but that’s not really the point.

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The band also pays tribute to some of their favorite peers on the record. “Greatest-Hits” features a few references to The Ziggens, a band signed to Sublime’s label, Skunk Records. (Nowell famously shouted out the band’s singer Bert Susanka by name.) On “Lincoln Highway Dub,” meanwhile, they lock into an incredible groove that would eventually go on to star in their hit single “Santeria.”

Lincoln Highway Dub

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“Saw Red,” which features No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani before the group broke big, is a straight-ahead ska anthem that eventually drifts into hardcore punk territory. Throughout, though, Norwell and Stefani duet like 50s country crooners. It’s delightful and slightly crazy, like many of the best Robbin’ the Hood songs. Pitchfork once offhandedly referred to the album as “haphazard and caustic.” But it’s clear that every sound crammed into this sprawling opus was chosen for a reason — an act of beautifully controlled chaos, equal parts cohesive and thrillingly unpredictable.

Listen to Sublime’s Robbin’ the Hood now.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David

    March 2, 2024 at 8:11 pm

    No mention of Raleigh Theodore Sakers? I hope you’re recording this.

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