On May 25, 1996, however, lead vocalist and guitarist Nowell was found dead in a San Francisco hotel room of a heroin overdose. The band collapsed, but the eponymous Sublime was still slated for a July 1996 release. On the strength of the chart-topping alternative radio hit "What I Got," the album was certified gold by the end of 1996. "Santeria" and "Wrong Way" also enjoyed heavy airplay, and Sublime eventually sold more than six million copies, making it one of the most popular reggae-punk albums in history. Such success spread to the band's earlier albums too, leading 40 Oz. to Freedom to double-platinum sales and Robbin' the Hood to gold certification.
"The singular sound of Sublime, alternately polished and rough and ready, finds stoner rock, rap, punk, and hip-hop funk blended with doses of ska, rock steady, dancehall, and every other pungent flavor of reggae. The result was a beautiful, warts-and-all brand of poetry - a powerful new blend of street sounds and party music. In Nowell, Sublime had as astounding singer and lyricist who created his own edgy but expressive underground vernacular. And in Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, Sublime was fortunate to have an agile, rock-solid rhythm section that could cover the entire musical waterfront." - David Wild