LY – Back 2 Zanzibar (King Street Mix)
New York. It’s a cold winter night of 1994. Most of locals get their music from the radio, or from mixtapes swapped with friends. The Brooklyn Bridge shooting brought terror, yet could not break the spirit of a true New Yorker. Digable Planets won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance bringing pride to the city. It is in such context that the Manhattan-based Nite Grooves record label released LY’s ‘Back 2 Zanzibar’. The uplift given by the King Street Mix fleshes out the jazzy sound of the original. This is a track that depicts the streets of New York filled with narrow alleyways, neon-sign filled bars and active night time activity.
“New york, new york”
The lyrics are simple “Lets go to the Zanzibar” being rehearsed like a graduation speech. Yet the contrast between the uptempo beat and the melancholy synths brings thought into the dance. Bringing out the raw spirit that characterises the decade, the drums sound primitive yet crispy. Above it all, the saxophone, an instrument associated with New York’s Jazz greats such as Henry Threadgill & Lee Konitz, is given a free-roam. It is almost as if LY uses its independence as symbolism of the city’s nature. In the home of the Big Apple and the Statue of Liberty, you’re in charge of your will.
The recent revival of the 1990s spirit is strong, with fresh trailblazing DJs including Peggy Gou, DJ Seinfeld & Mall Grab carrying the torch of crudity, among others. But in the midst of this ‘Back 2 Zanzibar’ retains the anomaly. Jovonin’s production is an artefact for the NY underground scene. The energy created flickers like a flame in a soundscape that feels frosty. The track is akin to a fire emanating warmth from the trash can with it’s zing. It is here that you’re reminded that whether your poor or rich, affluent or homeless, house music does not discriminate.