The NME once put Public Enemy on the cover with the strapline “The Hardest Working Man In Yo! Business” – you feel Fatman Scoop might fancy a shot at that title. It’s not so much the intensity of his hustle, but the breadth of it – he branched out from hype man to radio DJ to featured artist to DVD producer to Celebrity Big Brother star, barreling through a career on confidence, connections, and that parade-ground bellow of a voice.

The voice is what makes “Be Faithful”. That isn’t an insight, as this is not a record you have insights about; it’s a record you let roll over you, a wave of raucous rhythm and noise. Scoop understands the first law of hype – volume matters more than content. Not that the content doesn’t help – this record got to number one partly because it was a good time, partly because it was a good time that’s joyfully easy to imitate. All you chickenheads? BE QUIET! But any nonsense sold with this conviction would have done.

If there’s any mystery here, it’s how Scoop’s fun-or-bust approach does actually end up being fun. “Be Faithful” is a musical water-cannon that pins you to the club wall and then shouts “WHO FUCKIN’ TONIGHT?” in your face, and yet it manages to sound inclusive, not bullying. It’s because Scoop sounds like he’s working himself up as much as you. The second law of hype: you never switch off. DJ Otzi, to pick one example, sounded like he would finish “Hey Baby” and be straight backstage to count the money. Fatman Scoop is more like a rap Brian Blessed: there are no circumstances in which you could, or would want to, imagine him being anything other than this.

“Be Faithful” was a club favourite back home but not a huge hit. In 2003 interviews, Scoop is over the moon at the idea that his goofball song came out of nowhere to hit the top in the UK. It’s true that the British record-buying public didn’t embrace “Be Faithful” because of any great love of rap, or the hypeman’s role in it. When the “Engine, engine, number 9” Black Sheep sample drops in, it would have sounded to most like a delightfully random let-up in the track’s intensity, not an old school callback. British listeners loved this record, I’d guess, mainly because it’s a loud man shouting at them. Its closest chart relative is Scooter’s “Ramp! (The Logical Song)”, not any other hip-hop at all. 

Which doesn’t matter one bit – there are almost no bad reasons for liking music, and whatever joyful fluke brought a no-frills party banger to the country’s attention, I’m glad it happened. “Be Faithful” is one of those smash records which feels obvious, but also arbitrary; it fits a need you didn’t know you had, but it completes that need too.

Score: 7

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