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"Don't Push" by Sublime

Sublime is the most important band to come out of California since The Doors. Bradley Nowell was able to fuse together reggae, rock, and hip hop, and while there were influences such as One Step Beyond By Madness, Surfings Buena Park by the Ziggens and Ghost Town by the Specials, no other band was able to commit to this particular blend of styles before. Their sound represents the SoCal vibe and places like Long Beach where the urban environment is right on the sand, next to the waves, under the palm trees. Sublime's contribution to music inspired an entire genre of hundreds of bands writing songs based off Brad's same formula today. Sometimes Sublime is stereotyped as being for stoned white guys in shorts and tank tops, and is liked by low iq frat guys who want to drink bud lights on a house boat in lake havasu, who's lack of intellectual depth would attract them to Sublime's upbeat white boy reggae ska pop hits such as "Wrong Way," "Santeria" and "What I got." The first thing I would say to this view is, what is wrong with that? The second thing I would say is that if you are only judging Sublime by their third and final six times platinum 1996 self titled album released after their lead singer's death, not only are you shrugging off a masterpiece of massive commercial success but you are also missing much of the depth of this band.

Don't Push is a prime example of what Sublime is. The song is a blend of rock, hip hop, ska, and reggae; it does not have a chorus or follow a typical pop song structure. It is a perfect example of what was to become solidified as the reggae rock drum beat - a blend of a hip hop beat and a reggae beat, with fast high hats filling in for your typical larger reggae percussion section. The song was originally released in 1991 on their demo cassette "Jah Won't Pay the Bills" and was recorded several times appearing on "40 oz to Freedom," "Second Hand Smoke," "Robin the hood," the Acoustic Album, "Stand by your Van" the live album, and "Everything under the sun." It would have probably been included in every live Sublime set

The song is grounded by the reggae rock beat which breaks for emphasis and on parts is accompanied by percussion. Underneath is a baseline that sounds like it could be a very slowed down version of a mariachi bass riff. This is all glued together by guitar skanks, passed down by Bob Marley to the more uptempo ska bands. This foundation allows Bradley to show off his guitar skills, hip hop skills, and surprisingly perfect pitch voice. I should mention that often times Miguel Happolt aka Ras MG would play the guitar in studio.

The rumor about the lyrics when I first started listening this song was Bradley was telling the listener "I saw my best friend tonight so don't push me too far." His best friend being heroin, and the threat coming from the fact that heroin often can make people more belligerent.

So this song has everything, the perfect blend of styles, the showcasing of the bands talents, the references to socal culture and their musical history, as well as Bradley Nowell's life story and personal relationship to the drugs that eventually ended his life. It's all in there in an original structure.

Music really doesn't get much better than this.


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