Release Date: Apr 94
Chart Position: 3
Here he is, Neggae’s very own cheeky chappy, CJ Lewis. Bold as brass, dressed to kill, always with a fine lady or six on his arm. That guy. I did used to get him mixed up a little bit with Dion Dublin though. Both quite gangly and strong of chin. Here’s CJ (after yet another threesome):
And here’s Dion (after being sexually preyed upon by his manager):
“Anyway, enough about Scottish willy maniacs, what about the song Vince?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s not bad at all. It’s a big old dumb pop song, and CJ knew exactly what he wanted to achieve with it – to break the top 40. Which he did. It’s effectively what we would have called in 1994 a ‘happy shopper‘ version of Chaka Demus & Pliers’ Twist and Shout. Big obvious beats? Check. Less variation in song structure? You got it! OKish yet repetitive toasting? Coming right up! Even the standard of Merseybeat sample is weaker – using the 1963 hit by the Searchers in comparison to CDAP’s reuse of the Beatles.
There are some positives though. The beats while obvious are pretty banging – and the squealy noise reminds me of Insane in the Membrane. This is a good thing. And it’s another one of those Neggae-meets-BigBeat groovers, we’ve seen similar before with Boom-Shak-a-lak and Oh Carolina. OK, so not particularly clever but it flicks my switch. CJ himself is an good toaster, and where he loses points for repetition he more than makes up for with melody.
By this point wth Neggae it appears a lot of artists had cottoned on to the win-win of neggaefying a 60s hit. Parents like it because they have the original tucked away somewhere so can briefly appear cool by association to their kids. Kids like it because it’s got massive digital bass/beats/squeals and a sharply dressed black dude hollering “Mandem/Galdem” in a nice colourful video they can watch on the Chart Show.
The video is cheery enough; typically 90s fisheye lense and proto-hipsta colouring. And if CJ wants 6 ladeeyz, then CJ gets 6 ladeeyz (but no scottish football managers please).
Score: 7/10 – welcome to the party Ceej!
Holy sh*t, CJ M’FN Lewis! Where have you been hiding at ya beaut?
Ok, so I’ve had a couple of beers, my fingers are having a hard time finding the keys and I’m now typing with the efficiency of the PG Tips monkey. But let’s try and write a review shall we?
CJ Lewis, bringing the heat, lighting up summer with a seriously delightful tune. This tune got some heavy play in my mum’s Rover Cabriolet during the Summer of Dread, cruising round West Byfleet, top down with the J reg banging out CJ Lewis, Shaggy and friends. I’d pick up Jonny from his pad (also known as Neil and Pat’s) belting this out, he’d then turn it off and put on some other pish. After a few back and forths, we agreed that Neggae was the way forward and he let his obsession for 96.4 Eagle Radio – “The Station That Loves Surrey & Hampshire” fade away and fall in line with the wave that was and still is Neg!
Damn, I’m all over the place tonight. Bottom line is CJ Lewis came in strong with an island stylie/urban, rap heavy tune that has a soft side which makes it appealing to almost everyone who listens to it. For me, he nails it from the beginning, nice use of the vinyl scratch for the intro, jumps in nicely with some rap and a solid bassline compliments his “Pliers-like” vocals really well.
As far as the video goes, this is how to produce an urban neggae video. A little sun, nice girls dancing, not over the top mixed in with some interaction from the man CJ. Take note UB40, Bitty from last week and don’t think you’re gonna get away without a mention you slack ba&t$rd Jonny Gill!
Score: Put me down for 9/10 – CJ Lewis is the man, ahhhhh yeahhhh! Bo!
OK, so it’s getting serious now. Everything so far has almost been a warm up act. It’s a bit like the third round of the FA cup when the real teams enter the frame, or when Scott Howard turns into TeenWolf. It’s been good but it’s just about to get a whole load better.
CJ gets going with his first offering to the scene with a great uplifting textbook neg blockbuster. When you break it down it’s all there and in hindsight is actually the blueprint for how I have assessed all previous tunes. The same way Rappers Delight became the benchmark for all commercial hip hop, this almost did the same to the commercial reggae scene.
The intro is sublime with some nonsensical toasting and boasting from CJ that leads us straight into that memorable chorus line. In fact all throughout the tune I have absolutely no idea what he is on about, but it sounds to be an uplifting and interesting topic and although I don’t know what the lyrics are (was not even interested in looking them up) I found myself being able to rap along with him almost purely in manspeak noises only. The backing vocals from the chick also add to the overall class of the act and compliment CJ very well.
The video is pretty urban and I like the way he has not tried to cover anything up, yep he knocks around with fine looking girls under motorway bypasses, what wrong with that? Frown upon it if you like, but CJ and his girlfriend really don’t care and they both seem very happy together.
Score: Nice one CJ and look forward to hearing more from you! 9/10
This is the first outing in the Hot 90 for CJ Lewis, Grandson of Narnia author C.S Lewis (little known fact, the character of Aslan was inspired by the first entry on the Hot 90). The success of this song unfortunately had a detrimental effect on CJ’s mental health and he endured a James Harries like episode and can now be currently found on popular BBC2 quiz show ‘Eggheads’. This song was originally released by the Drifters, probably not the same version of the band I saw at ‘Somerwest World’ Butlin’s in 1986 but still valid nonetheless. The intro is total indie (that’s what Britpop was called before 1994), it’s very similar to this, was John Leckie secretly a neggae producer? I’m just putting it out there. The second part of the intro sounds like it was put in by accident, but I like it. The song kicks in and sets out it’s stall immediately, no messing about, no pretentiousness this is a balls out feel good summer anthem, I can almost taste the orange calypso mixed with the sweet taste of an Embassy number 1. There’s a Jam and Lewis type breakdown just after 2 minutes which adds to the feeling of this song being a musical patchwork quilt and I for one welcome it’s warming embrace. CJ’s vocals are decent if a little nasally, not sure if this is down to overdoing the Mozam or just a lack of decongestant but it doesn’t diminish from the overall experience. The real vocal star of this is Samantha Depasois on backing vocals, they’re sublime, she’s like Leona Lewis with sex appeal. I can confirm she’s got a lot in common with me with regards to eating habits as I’ve been going through her bins for the last three weeks.
The video at first looks like a simple fiesta shot under the motorway bridge on the Byfleet/West Byfleet border but if we look a bit closer not all is as it seems. Pause the video at this point, look at the Graffiti behind, it reads ‘Maggie’s Pain’. Some might say this is merely coincidence and there’s no way they could have possibly known that it would be reviewed on the neggae blog in the same week of Thatcher’s funeral, I beg to differ, stranger things have happened in music.
It may be the sun, it may be me mellowing with age, it may be the 3 pints I had at lunch but I thoroughly enjoyed this.
CJ Lewis, As British as the Imperial System yet still able to conjure up a new language in the late 20th Century. Among his choice phrases and Lewisism’s, lib on de condem lib on de condem wine o wine o wine ehhayyyy and later my personal favourite: Ribi dibi dibi doo da dey, Ribi dibi dibi dibi dibi do dah dey.
A caricature of British Neggae, he decided to take the most direct route to market with his debut single in 1994. Sweets for my sweet was a Saccharin Pop Hit for the Drifters in 1961. With its Candy Floss Guitar Riff, it was exhumed, cashed in and re hashed by a plethora of artists over the 50 years that followed. The Searchers had a run at it in the 60’s and Dionne Warwick a decade later, before Lewis decided to spin around his Kangol hat and leap at head first armed with his own brand of Britois.
he great thing about this tune was everyone had their own version. Because no-one could honestly say they knew what Stephen was singing about they just made up their own lyrics and belted them out.
Everything was repeated in a Shabba Ranks style so the song only actually consists of 6 lines and four actual real words. The process was then repeated in the second verse (same as the first). The song culminated in a Minnie Ripperton Scream from CJ’s vocalist, a bit of an anti climax and more an indicator that this bubble gum pop tune is soon nearing its end.
Score: Not one of my favourites, Another lazy cover. 5 out of 10.
NEGGAE SCORE: 7.6