Throwback Thursdays: Sly & Robbie “Superthruster”

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton

I am not going to lie, I completely forgot about this song until I searched for a Sly & Robbie throwback video to post today (you’ll see why we’re featuring them a little later in the day–big things in the works!). But now that I have rediscovered it, I have two words: 1) blood 2) clot. The first track from Drum n’ Bass Stripped to the Bone, their trip-hoppy collaboration LP with Howie B of Mo’Wax fame, “Superthruster” is a wicked technofunk groove–you almost wouldn’t recognize it as the Riddim Twins if not for Robbie’s distinctive slap-bass flourishes–and for reggae fans something of a footnote to their body of work, which includes inventing the styles we now call ‘rockers’ and ‘rub a dub’, rewriting the sound of New Wave at Compass Point and laying down arguably the greatest dancehall riddims of all time with productions like “Murder She Wrote.” But it is the Anime/cyberpunk video that secures its place in dancehall history. Combining the coolest elements of G.I. Joe, Aeon Flux, Appleseed and the orbital Rastas of William Gibson’s sci-fi classic Neuromancer, the “Superthruster” vid might just be one of the highest-quality animated music videos ever made. Drumbar and Basspeare’s startling on-point manga avatars–encased in their armored mech exoskeletons like Major Lazer’s rich uncles (General Lazer!)–track a harlequin-like villainess through a brokedown deathstar only to realize that she is just a marionette, then pursue the real puppetmaster to a supernova of a conclusion in a collision of aesthetics and budget that could only have happened in 1999. Remember what the future was like?