311 – Blending Hard Rock, Funk, and Rap

311 – Hard Rock, Funk, and Rap

311 blends hard-rock, funk, and rap into one potent music cocktail. Since their debut, Music, in 1993, the Los Angeles-based band has released an album each year while touring nonstop and selling out theaters nationwide — thanks to a massive grassroots fan base.

Hexum uses vivid imagery to create a powerful message about living in the moment and appreciating the preciousness of life. Reggae-influenced rhythms and energetic guitar riffs complement the introspective lyrics.

The band

In a recent interview, Hexum stated that 311 has experienced a creative rebirth in the wake of 2017’s “Mosaic.” He cites this newfound inspiration as a result of working with musicians from a variety of musically diverse backgrounds.

The band has also performed with a range of popular artists including Cypress Hill, KoRn, and No Doubt. Hexum says that the band’s ability to segue with such diverse artists is an indication of their broad appeal.

311 was formed in 1985 at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Hexum, Mahoney, and Sexton originally played together in a concert jazz band and a cover band named Eds. The band took its name from the police code for streaking, a crime that Watson was arrested for in the late ’80s. Their first major success came in 96 with the song “Down.” Following this, 311 released their third album, Music, which included the charting singles “All Mixed Up” and “Do You Right.” The band continues to tour extensively and record albums.

The songs

The soaring, hook-laden melodies of 311’s first album set their style in stone. Their debut incorporated reggae, hip-hop and funk into a rhythmic blend that carried them into the ’90s.

The band’s earliest hits include “Do You Right,” which made the charts and became a hit movie song in the Dudley Moore film Arthur. Also featured in the sentimental school drama To Sir With Love, this mid-tempo jam features a sweet breakup verse and is one of Nick Hexum’s strongest melodies.

The locked-in 2003 single “Creatures” reveals the rare moment where 311’s drums, bass and guitars all clock in sync, delivering a riff and chorus that legitimately bangs. Hexum harmonizes beautifully with the song’s soaring melody, and it stands as one of their most recognizable songs.

The members

There aren’t many bands that can boast a lineup that’s remained intact for three decades. 311 has released 13 studio albums, performed thousands of shows and built a massive grassroots following.

The band began in the late ’80s in Nick Hexum’s basement in Omaha, Nebraska. Hexum, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist Tim Mahoney grew up together, attending Westside High School. They brought in friends Aaron “P-Nut” Wills and SA Martinez, a talented singer and MC who attended Bryan High.

In 1991, they recorded an independent release called Unity at Rainbow Recording Studios in Omaha. They produced 1,000 CDs and 500 cassettes, selling them at shows and through area consignment shops. Mahoney replaced guitarist Jim Watson and the group solidified its hybrid sound with the addition of Martinez, making the line-up complete.

Although they’re often categorized as “Rapcore”—an unfortunate term that lumps them in with terrible bands like Limp Bizkit—311 is more than rap. Their best-known songs touch on chugging hard rock, playful hip-hop and woozy tropical psychedelia.

The music

As the band’s name suggests, 311 came together at their high school in Omaha. The group formed around 1985, with Sexton and SA hooking up in the concert jazz band while bassist P-Nut honed his finger-popping skills. P-Nut is obsessed with four things: music, pot, The Simpsons and occult figure Aleister Crowley (his right shin is covered in multicolored renderings of Crowley’s motto: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law).

Signed to Capricorn Records, 311 released their first major LP, Music (1993), followed by Grassroots (1994). But it was the 1995 self-titled effort rich in rock, rap and reggae that blew up.

Since then, the band has churned out album after album of feel-good grooves and hard rockers. 311’s newest release, Voyager, debuted this month. And while songs like “Good Feeling” are uplifting, the band has not abandoned its penchant for darker themes. Hexum said he hoped to use the album to address issues such as political toxicity and social media’s effect on personal insecurities.

Reverse your steps to the main page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *