1. Unsolved Rap Mysteries: "Dick Lewis is Watching."


    Depending on your geographic location and point of entry into the hip hop kingdom, rap lyrics can be full of mystery. In 1989, being a big fan of 3rd Bass, but raised on the left coast, there was always one Pete Nice reference, from the song "Brooklyn-Queens," that that left me totally in the dark:" I'm Dick Lewis / Cause baby I'm watching you scheme on a brother for a knot ." Who was Dick Lewis? Sure, I always assumed he was some local New York somebody. But barring a verifying phone call to my cousins in Crown Heights (and in 1989 calling long-distance wasn't cheap), I pretty much just shelved that one into the recesses of my mind.

    Circa 1997, after moving to the Rotten Apple and joining ego trip, there was a moment when Sacha reminisced to the crew something to the effect "Hey, you guys remember, 'Dick Lewis is watching you?'" To which my response was probably "Yes, but no ." At least then in the cipher I learned that it was from a TV commercial or something. For me, a little light was finally shed on the lyric, and back then — with no expectation of an actual VHS casette to watch and experience Dick Lewis for myself (pause) — it was enough to explain the long forgotten enigmatic phrase and keep it moving.

    Fast-forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon in spring of 2012 when, suddenly, the mummified mnemonic of "Dick Lewis is Watching You" reanimated itself, leaping out of its dusty brain-crypt and ambushing my consciousness like Kato used to do Inspector Clouseau. Only now, there's the all-knowing oracle known as Google to the rescue and lay the mystery to rest, once and for all. A few keystrokes later and youtube to the rescue. For those of you who lived in New York at that time, or those of you who were intrepid enough before me to consult the Google long ago, this isn't news. But for me, this explains everything.

    Now, you watch Dick Lewis.

    3rd Bass - "Brooklyn-Queens"

    "Dick Lewis" at 2:56

    LOL. The opening vignette with Pete Nice is the best ever. RIP Albee Square Mall.

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    • http://poetryforgravediggers.wordpress.com Jordan Ferguson

      I remember being twelve years old watching this video and not having any damn idea what Pete and Serch were talking about in the beginning. To be honest, I still don't. Soupy?!

    • http://twitter.com/whitesaid @whitesaid

      Dick Lewis is a little creepy, yo.

      He's probably TBM though, so I get it...kinda sorta.

    • reptar

      This also explains Reggie Lewis is watching by 7l and esoteric. probably a play on words.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joedfilmmaker Joe D.

      Thanks for explaining this mystery. Google takes all the fun out of esoteric regional pop-culture.

    • egotrip

      @Joe D: True.

    • Ricky D

      Pete supposedly took the "Dick Lewis is watching" line from his ex-rhyme partner Lord Scotch, hence "getting numb like a derelict on Scotch."

      Also, when I was growing up I assumed a lot of the NYC rap videos I saw were shot in mysterious urban locales that a tourist or newcomer would never stumble across. When I moved to NYC in the late 90s I realized that most of them, like "Brooklyn-Queens," were actually shot in obvious, well-known spots like downtown Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza, the Brooklyn waterfront, etc.

    • http://www.largeup.com Jesse Serwer

      Growing up in NY in the '80s, the Newmark and Lewis commercials with the "Dick Lewis is Watching" slogan were the source of endless amusement for my brother and I. I clearly recall tearing the slogan and a pic of ol' Dick from a Sunday newspaper circular and, when I knew others would be using the bathroom before I would, placing it above the toilet of the bathroom when I was about eight. The chain went out of business shortly thereafter, prematurely bringing an end to our Dick Lewis-is-watching-themed pranks.

    • Shannon

      This is hilarious. I recall (with my 2 younger brothers) taking the top of the ad and slowly sliding it (just the top) UNDER the door of the bathroom while someone was in there