Mar 20


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#962, 1st November 2003

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.



  1. 1
    weej on 9 Mar 2020 #

    The first time I heard this was in I think 2012 or so – I was trying the music sorting technique suggested by yourself called “the mincer” to go through the unweildy collection of mp3s I had acquired over the years, including a folder with every UK number one. My reaction on this coming up was equal parts “what the hell *is* this?” and “actually hold on, this is kind of amazing” and it survived several cycles as it was always a joy when it popped up.

  2. 2
    Simon on 9 Mar 2020 #

    I had a bootleg of this for what seemed like about 2 years before it was officially released in the UK which I used to play at a student night on a Monday (“Double Vision” – double spirits for 1 pound :-/) and it was *huge*. I’d even go as far as mixing in the Black Sheep track in the middle – they were a receptive lot after that many cheap doubles.

  3. 3
    Smilin' Peter on 9 Mar 2020 #


    Ahem, My main memory of this song is hearing it played at monstrous volume by the folks down my corridor in my university halls, when they were in a party mood. Which was, it seemed, all the damn time.

    This was definitely 2001-2002. So I was surprised to read that this only was a number 1 in 2003. Maybe, as comment #2 says, my noisy neighbours picked up on it form a student club night …

  4. 4
    AMZ1981 on 9 Mar 2020 #

    I think a lot of people heard this one in the clubs long before its commercial release, which is one reason there was sufficient demand to take it straight to the top. I think the key point was that clearing all the samples for release (and presumably negotiating royalty rates) took time.

    As Tom says Be Faithful is nominally a hip hop record but sits slightly outside its genre, possibly in the same way that Ebeneezer Goode did a decade before. I’m certainly no hip hop/ RnB fan but can more than cope with this for three minutes when the drink is flowing.

  5. 5
    ThePensmith on 9 Mar 2020 #

    Oh dear. I fear I am going to be a party pooper here. I could get on board with the reassessment of Tomcraft, but not Fatman Scoop. This actually took five whole years to get to number one.

    It had first appeared in 1998, but largely, as discussed above, because of the vast amount of clearance issues with the samples used that had to be addressed, it took a long time before it could be granted a commercial release, in that time slowly building up as a club favourite, and hence why the man himself was surprised when this did hit the top. I don’t think there’s any other comparable example of this kind of bunny in terms of its journey there to my knowledge.

    I recall him being almost in tears on the phone to Wes Butters when he announced this as being number one on Radio 1’s chart show. I’m sure he’s a lovely man really – as his time on Celebrity Big Brother proved – but ‘Be Faithful’ is all a bit too much on my meek ears even now, so I can’t really give it anything more than a 2, but I can understand why certain people still love it now, and why it was successful. I just can’t see or indeed hear it for myself.

    #2 watch, and to be honest there wasn’t anything else that was worthy of challenging this over the two weeks it was at the top – Blue launching their third album but treading water musically speaking with the Gary Barlow co-penned ballad ‘Guilty’ on week one, and a returning Kevin Lyttle on its second week, Atomic Kitten claiming highest new entry at #3 with ‘If You Come To Me’, which was cut from the same cloth as pretty much every single they’d done for the two years previous to that, and would’ve been a non-event had it made the top.

  6. 6
    Tom May on 9 Mar 2020 #

    A good pop tune. I remember raucously dancing to it many times in my last year at Uni and then when back at home in the North East too. Much more absurd and random than something like Lumidee, but this was just as part of the pop tapestry.

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Mar 2020 #

    A cacophony with just a few hints of inspiration scraping through the murk. The enforced jollity reminds me a bit of Steve Walsh. Best part, by far? The female vocals.


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    Lee Saunders on 9 Mar 2020 #

    Had no idea which way Tom was gonna go – a 2? and 8? It splits opinion a lot as already demonstrated in the comments and I’m very pleased with the 7, although I’ll go one higher to 8. Lopsided locked grooves in a No. 1 are very much in my realm of interest yessiree , and a shouty man saying a bunch of nonsense over this one = moreso. I can hear Death Grips and a few DJ Hell tracks approaching in the rear view mirror, too. As tuneless and captivating as Bound 4 da Reload.

  9. 10
    lonepilgrim on 10 Mar 2020 #

    I have no memory of this from the time but there is something gleefully relentless about it that kinda bludgeons me into submission.

  10. 11
    Shiny Dave on 11 Mar 2020 #

    Second sample-driven number one with a Faith Evans chorus, and one thing is for sure, this is much the more fun of the two.

    In a British context, it’s a novelty record that’s unapologetic about it, certainly that’s how it felt to those of us for whom it emerged out of nowhere seemingly without any context with that weird animated video, looking like a PS1 game with a “big head mode” cheat code activated (you got a fair few of those in the PS1 era). I was one of those, as was my brother, I think we liked it as pure silliness then, I still like it as pure silliness now.

    Tom mentions imperial-phase Scooter as a logical (no pun intended) corollary to this. Inevitably Fatman Scoop eventually turns up on a Scooter record, “Behind The Cow.” Complete with a WTF-bomb of a tempo change that made me want to use it in spin classes at one point.

  11. 12
    James BC on 11 Mar 2020 #

    It’s slightly annoying that there was a follow-up hit to this, since it would have been a perfect one hit wonder: as enjoyable as it is, nobody in the world needs more than one of this type of song.

    Interestingly the same applies to Scoop’s closest chart predecessor (pace Scooter), Double Barrel by Dave and Ansil Collins – a single follow-up, three months later, with a respectable top ten position but not quite the same magic.

  12. 13
    Ricardo on 11 Mar 2020 #

    The way this song eventually got to #1 wasn’t that unusual back then – lots of dance records (too many to mention) became chart hits sometimes years after developing as club smashes.
    The big reveal here is that some hip-hop records also started developing the same way. You had M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” (Remix), which reached #7 in 2001 almost a year after it originally came out. You’d have Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It” hitting #2 in 2004, five years after its original release. And this one, of course.
    But then these were (still) the days of the physical single. Club records lent itself to these kinds of phenomena, as the natural progression would go from either being first released on vinyl to attract the DJ market or make the rounds as promos/white labels/test pressings/etc. aimed at the key DJ’s; in any case, the trick was to let those tracks build themselves over time, with the goal of eventually being so big in clubland that radio DJ’s in specialist slots would feature them and thus create the final buzz that would lead to those records being added to daytime playlists (and videos being created for them, let’s not forget that either) and, finally, general release for the chart victory lap.
    All this to pose the inevitable question: wouldn’t this be the era’s equivalent of today’s virality? I mean, think about it. Lizzo recently had two hits with songs which were two (“Truth Hurts”) and three (“Good As Hell”) years old by the time they finally reached critical mass. And I might be wrong, as I’m not clubbing the way I did until about 2013, but I certainly don’t remember any big club record from the last few years becoming a chart smash over time the way it used to be, hence my era parallels.
    Any thoughts on this?

  13. 14
    JLucas on 12 Mar 2020 #

    Ah, I can finally log back in again!

    Yeah the most interesting element of this for me is the Faith Evans sample. A #7 hit on the US charts in 1998, it stalled at #23 in the UK (still one of her bigger solo hits here…)

    It is itself indebted to a looped sample from ‘Chic Cheer’, but in Evans capable hands it’s a breezy delight and one of my favourite RnB records of the era. Already being familiar with it, it was exciting to see a version of it belatedly go to #1, though I can’t say Fatman Scoop’s additions particularly thrilled me at the time or now. Easy to see the appeal though…

  14. 15
    Steve Mannion on 12 Mar 2020 #

    I recall an interview with the artist Kindness from a few years ago in which he posits that ‘Chic Cheer’ is great but ‘Love Like This’ is just greater for slowing down while beefing up that sampled hook. So hats off to the Fatman for turning that idea up to 11.

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    General Bounce on 12 Mar 2020 #

    @ Ricardo (#13) – there were actually quite a few of these club records becoming hits years after their original release around 2002-2004. Mainly down to a lot of them being particularly big in the North and labels realising there was an untapped market to make these records into hits. Some key examples would be

    DJ Aligator Project – The Whistle Song (originally out in 2000, a #5 hit here in 2002)
    Milk Inc – In My Eyes (released in Europe in 1999, a #9 hit in 2002)
    Love Inc – You’re A Superstar (released in 1998, #7 in 2002)
    Khia – My Neck My Back (released in 1999, #5 in 2004)

  16. 17
    Steve Mannion on 12 Mar 2020 #

    See also Panjabi MC’s ‘Mundian Te Bach Ke’ which first appeared on his 1998 album before charting four years later with a tacked on Jay Z guest spot. This phenomenon is not really much different from the commonplace trend across club music throughout chart history (with one of the remixes often, tho not always, usurping the original in popularity) though.

  17. 18
    Ricardo on 13 Mar 2020 #

    @Steve M (#17) – But the point here is two things: 1) that journey from club anthem to chart smash doesn’t really seem to happen anymore – not that I have noticed; but as I said above, I’m not out clubbing/raving the way I used to until about 2013; 2) that online virality seems to have sort of replaced this sort of phenomena somehow, as per my example of the Lizzo hits.
    In fact, you have an even better example of this with the Bag Raiders’s “Shooting Stars”. It certainly wasn’t its status as a club anthem (which it was, I saw it firsthand) that made it an actual hit almost ten years after it was first released!

  18. 19
    PapaT on 13 Mar 2020 #

    #13-The weird thing about You Can Do It being a hit in 2004 was that it was an explicit tie-in to a film from 2000 (Next Friday), with clips in the video and everything, that not only had come and gone and been long forgotten outside of HMV DVD sales racks, but had been followed by a (further) sequel which had met the same fate too. Quite where the momentum for that came from remains a mystery to me.

  19. 20
    Lee Saunders on 14 Mar 2020 #

    I always assumed it was the FNP remix that sold You Can Do It, surprised to see it was only track 3. Always used to hear their remix of My Neck My Back more than the original too (possibly through my own compilations however) – possibly popular club bootlegs sparking curiosity at record labels is in some way part of the root? A bunny not too far away which again is a 4 year old song seems to have a similar story.

  20. 21
    Lee Saunders on 14 Mar 2020 #

    (Obv #16 hints at this already but it seems viable to me for YCDI too regarding FNP’s remix)

  21. 22
    Billy Hicks on 14 Mar 2020 #

    The original version of You Can Do It was the one that got all the airplay on music channels, and the 16 year old me of the time just assumed it was a new song, as did many probably. I wasn’t even aware of the FNP remix for about four years when I bought a compilation CD and wondered what the hell this weird remix was of a song I thought I knew.

    Regarding Be Faithful, certainly around I stopped clubbing regularly in the mid-2010s this and Kevin Lyttle’s ‘Turn Me On’ remained huge floorfillers.

  22. 23
    weej on 14 Mar 2020 #

    I was going to say “what sort of clubs played this?” then realised the answer was probably “the regular clubs that the majority of people go to, which I had a few bad experiences with in the late-90s and then avoided even when I was going out clubbing three times a week from ’99 to ’04, and which probably weren’t nearly as bad as I assumed they were.”

  23. 24
    General Bounce on 16 Mar 2020 #

    @#19 – “You Can Do It” was another one which got played in the commercial clubs for years on end alongside the likes of “My Neck My Back” and “Be Faithful”, and ended up getting a re-release on the back of that after those two became hits.

    @#20 – FNP were actually the residents of Lingards in Bradford where I used to go in my teens, before moving on to Ikon in Wakefield when they were signed to AATW records as in-house remixers. Their mixes of some of the big pop hits tended to be the ones which dominated the club compilations of the time (most obviously the Clubland ones).

    FNP as we knew them then split up a long time ago – one half is now serving time for being caught with 40kg of heroin in his car


    Meanwhile the other half is soon to be releasing a new track on my record label under the FNP name…

  24. 25
    Steve Mannion on 17 Mar 2020 #

    #23: To perhaps support your suggestion I found myself at the Fez club in Putney one night in 2003 around this time (I don’t quite remember hearing ‘Be Faithful’ but definitely got Blu Cantrell’s ‘Breathe’ and Xtina & Lil Kim’s ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ among the slew of R&B hits of the time). Whatever the event itself was called I have no idea but a genuinely fun night and good crowd and wish I’d gone…more than this one time.

  25. 26
    Jamie on 25 Mar 2020 #

    Just realized the last five reviews have all scored 6 or above. Not a bad run. A shame a certain supergroup are just waiting in the wings to grind it to a halt.

  26. 27
    James BC on 27 Mar 2020 #

    We do seem to be on a classic run – the last ten songs average 6.7, the highest since the late 80s. (And it probably would have been higher if Ignition had been given a score.)

  27. 28
    Coagulopath on 2 Apr 2020 #

    Fatman Scoop has tons of charisma and sells the song well, but I kinda prefer it when songs don’t tell you to raise your hands, make noise, go crazy, et cetera. Particularly not fifty billion times.

    This joins “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” in the “songs that double as an aerobic workout” category.

  28. 29
    Gareth Parker on 28 May 2021 #

    The Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) of the 2000s. Either way, I like it as much as that Outhere Brother’s single, i.e. not very much. Mr Scoop is headache inducing music in my opinion. 1/10 I’m sorry to say.

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