Welcome to Lost Treasures, a brand new section here on the Indie Ear Blog, where every so often, I’ll go up in the attic, pull out some old boxes, and blow the dust off of some forgotten gems. These items, for whatever reason, have slipped through the cracks of music and pop-culture, yet managed to make an indelible impression on me.
There’s a well-known saying: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Hopefully my treasures don’t leave you running for the nearest garbage bin.
LOST TREASURE: XL & DBD, Sodom and America
It’s kind of hard to believe now, but when I was a child I was only allowed to listen to Christian music (no MTV, no radio, no secular music whatsoever). Eventually, with the help of my sister, I slowly broke my parents down. By the 10th grade, I was listening to secular radio and watching MTV on a daily basis. My Dad, not wanting me to lose my Christian-edge, would frequently buy me contemporary music from religious recording artists. I would always give my Dad the courtesy of listening to these albums, but in all honesty, most of the music was horrendous.
During my senior year of high school in 1993, my Dad brought home an album from a group called XL & DBD, titled Sodom and America. Like I did with all the cassettes he got me I gave it my one courtesy listen, but after I got through the album, I thought, “Hmm, that wasn’t half bad.” I actually starting listening to it more and more, and before long it was resting in heavy rotation alongside my Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and Helmet tapes.
Considering it was released off a Christian record label (BAI), the music was actually a bit before it’s time. Back then it seemed like certain Christian labels would jump on a musical trend, assemble a group together, and have them sing an album’s worth of material about the awesomeness of Jesus (don’t get me wrong, I believe that Jesus is awesome too, however, soulless songs about him are not). XL & DBD was different though.
So you might be wondering what they sounded like, right?
Okay, I’ll tell you, but I’m going to say a bad word right now (gulp), “rap-rock”. There, I said it. Keep in mind this was years before the whole genre got completely out-of-hand. Some rap-rock was done to perfection (a la Rage Against the Machine). From my understanding back then, XL was actually a legitimate emcee, and DBD (aka, Death Before Dishonor) was a metal band. When they combined forces, they became–XL & DBD (duh). Sodom and America came out only a few months after the first Rage Against the Machine album, so it’s not like rap-rock was the new craze sweeping the nation. Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain were still ruling the airwaves.
XL & DBD definitely expressed their Christian beliefs, but they did it in a very creative and thoughtful way, applying it to themes of racism, self-image, drug abuse, and capitalism. XL even boasted about using firearms in a clever manner, putting him on par with early 90’s tough-guy-talking rappers, “In 1993 racism trudges on and on, it seems it can’t be tamed/And if racism was a man and I had a 12-gauge I’d shoot him in the head in the Lord God’s name.” Years later this rhyme might scare a few non-Christians (and Christians for that matter), considering a certain world leader likes to do a lot of things in the “Lord God’s name”, but back then I thought it was pretty neat to hear a rhyme like this from a “Christian” artist.
For years I had trouble tracking down Sodom and America on CD. Only recently has it popped up on ebay. Sadly, one of the only informational pieces available on the band is their outdated webpage, which looks like an AV high school project from the early 90’s–which it very well could be.
If you ever come across XL & DBD at a used CD store or a yard sale at Pastor Ron’s house, definitely slap down the $1.50 for it–you won’t regret it at all.