Dick Lewis is Watching…
For the international disciple, rap has occasionally had its best lines dulled by localised references. In the internet era, a Michael Vick or Barry Bonds mention is easily recognisable, but some of Phife’s sporting analogies had me stumped, but Pete Nice’s ‘Brooklyn Queens’ “I’m Dick Lewis, ’cause baby I’m watchin’ you” line was utterly alien. Was it a TV personality? Comedian’s catchphrase?
Pete’s look, despite an alleged sneaker collection to melt minds, was immaculate down to the cane accessory. Blazers, stogies and smart trousers? A strong look, harking back to a time when an artist maintained an individual wardrobe to add to the star status. Go army jacket and Baltoros or go all out. There is no try. Only do. And Pete always made it effortless to the point where it’s as much of his laid-back persona as the voice. I’ve never quite ascertained as to whether that’s how he would choose to roll day-to-day, or how much of it was his ‘Prime Minister’ image – he seemed to get a little more roughneck for ‘Dust to Dust’ (didn’t Daddy Rich put on one of the Dredknotz, as well as Cage on that album?) in ’93.
Now authoring books on baseball as well as a getting into the baseball museum game, after the mooted comeback ‘Ichabod’s Cranium’ never happened, and running bars, his supposed republicanism was an odd rumour, but hey, each to their own. To find the origins of the Dick Lewis line, you’ve got to look to a pre 3rd Bass, back to graf legend KEO TOP TC-5 X-MEN (aka. MC Lord Scotch 79), profiled brilliantly in Complex.
The younger brother of another superb writer, albeit it one who gets up in a more conventional paper/hardback format, writer Jonathan Lethem, whose ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ and ‘The Fortress Of Solitude’ deserve your attention, apparently KEO (check his constantly interesting 12oz blog here), spat the line way back in the day (consider that the K & L Jewellers, Albee Square Mall image alongside Pete and Myzer was taken years previously) at the aforementioned shopping spot as a freestyle back when he, human beatbox Myzer and Pete had a crew called The Servin’ Generals (which later nearly became 3 The Hard Way). A character who definitely should have recieved as much respect lyrically on a bigger stage as he got for graffiti, he was incarcerated when ‘Brooklyn Queens’ hit, so the recycle sounds like a tribute, bolstered by the line that precedes it, “Gettin numb like a Derelict on Scotch.”
So if the story behind the line’s originator is revealed, who exactly is Dick Lewis? A man who put his name to an electronics retailer, Newmark & Lewis, operating from Long Island, but with a scattering of stores in NYC, NJ and surrounding cities. “Dick Lewis is watching” is the musical mantra that soundtracked a 1986 commericial (and I’m informed, many more) of infectious dance lunacy. Check out the man on the phone. Was this the ad that led to the line? Anyhow, after ailing through 1991, in February 1992, Newmark & Lewis closed for good. Dick had finally averted his all-seeing gaze. 3rd Bass split around the same time.
Check out the ultimate MC Serch interview here – http://pressrewind.wordpress.com/category/p-brothers/
NB- Serch’s site actually has a contact email, should the spectre of the ‘Derelicts Of Dialect’ sleevenotes still haunt you and you want to buy a ‘Unity’ t-shirt. I don’t think this still includes regular newsletters concerning the Unity Foundation.
And this is a far more comprehensive fansite than you’d expect for 3rd Bass, with a staggering array of audio – http://www.thirdbass.net/