In time, history will look back upon the post-millennial era as a time of great social and societal upheaval. The benefit of hindsight will clearly identify those walking among us who are the great heroes of this tumultuous time. The problem there is that the benefits of powerful words and actions cannot be felt retroactively. It is imperative we seek them out now. But in a world that’s entrenched in a digital revolution, finding clarity in a sea of infinite information becomes problematic. It becomes increasingly difficult to identify a single important voice when an entire planet is screaming at a wall. And thus it’s far too easy to overlook works of mass importance. With a keen enough eye, great songs of protest can be identified, even from seemingly unlikely sources such as mildly successful turn-of-the-century pop hits.
Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” is a loving allegory for societal equality. Far beyond being merely a guaranteed filler of dance floors the world over, Be Faithful represents a bold, and oft-unrecognised, early champion for a populace born out of compassion and inclusion, and not out of intolerance and segregation. In a mere three minutes and twenty-six seconds, Scoop rebels against a conservative, God-fearing ruling class, and promotes radical ideas of peace, love and equality of class, gender and race.
Scoop’s first target is that of the money-driven class system. Long before the Occupy movement railed against the so-called One Percent, Fatman Scoop had identified that the majority of resources goes to a privileged minority. Indeed, the rich getting richer. He calls for peace, calm and unity. “You got a hundred dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he exclaims, immediately singling out the wealthy. “You got a fifty dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he continues, urging those with means and aspirations of greater personal wealth to identify themselves. “You got a twenty dollar bill? Put your hands up!” he pleads, urging the middle class to make themselves known to the congregation. “You got a ten dollar bill? Put your hands up!” Here, perhaps identifying a childhood spent living below the line, Scoop demands those suffering the pitfalls of poverty be heard and counted. He identifies that class division is present, and in one deft swoop asserts that money should not be a tool of division, rather it should aid and benefit all. It should exist not as a goal or symbol of status, rather as a blessing of which all should feel the benefits. It should assist the greatest number, not only by way of food and housing, but also in public infrastructure – “Engine, Engine Number 9. On the New York Transit line. If my train falls off the tracks, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.” By demanding people from all walks of life raise their hands in unison, Scoop demonstrates to the world that money might be green, but we all bleed red.
But his vitriol and protestations do not end there. Far from being content to rest on his laurels, Scoop reveals his feminist ideologies: “Single ladies! I can’t hear ya! Single ladies! Make noise!” This is a furious battle cry for the females in his life. Tired of patriarchal oppression, Scoop implores them to not simply be a head in the crowds. Rather, he realises the need for women to boldly claim their identity; to state that traditional ideals of relationships and marriage do not necessarily apply to everyone; to assert that choices and responsibilities for monogamy and sexual behaviour rest with the individual, and should not be subject to ridicule, shame or public dissection. Later, he questions the media’s proliferation of unattainable beauty: “If ya got short hair make noise/If ya got more hair on your head/If you got long hair on your head/From your ear to your sleeve/Even if you got a weave.” Scoop reverts here to the role of gentle reassurer. It’s clear he’s speaking directly to those who feel disaffected and disenfranchised by society’s prioritising of aesthetics. No matter what you might look like on the outside, everyone is beautiful. Fatman Scoop knows this. And he hopes, in time, you will learn this too.
Scoop even dances with philosophy, positing the question “What’s your zodiac sign?” – a query he repeats thrice. He leaves this lingeringly open ended, opting to not provide an answer. And, in doing so, he challenges his audience to think for themselves. What IS your zodiac sign? Why do we put so much stock in them? Are our fates pre-determined in accordance with the periods of our births? Or do we, as a people, look too much for answers in arbitrary star positioning, often at the expense of our own self-reliance? It’s clear that, in asking this, Fatman Scoop is presenting himself as one of modern society’s great thinkers, worthy of holding in regard alongside luminaries such as Kant or Heidegger.
Fatman Scoop saves the crux of his message for perhaps his most impassioned stanza. As his masterpiece slingshots out of one verse and into another, Scoop roars “To all my niggas who wanna hit it from the back” with all the conviction and fire of a nuclear explosion. The common man may make the erroneous assumption that Scoop is merely making a light-hearted shout out to his more promiscuous contemporaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if it’s for a brief split second, Fatman Scoop leans heavily on the word “my.” And it’s this possessive, fatherly nod to his masses that defines Fatman Scoop’s revolution. As the figurehead for a social uprising that perhaps the world simply wasn’t ready for at the time, Scoop preaches togetherness. He is the Pope at his pulpit. The hero we need, and the one we deserve. To paraphrase The Fresh Prince, he is the driver, and we are all on a rap ride. Every single one of us. Together. Fatman Scoop’s vision for the world is one of love, respect and compassion. As Be Faithful rumbles to a close, he repeats over and over “Stop playing. Keep it moving.” And he makes no mistakes in this insistence. Life is perpetual motion. We must never sit still. We must never allow ourselves to idle. We, as a people, must continue to move forward in order to realise Scoop’s dream. He insists that all of us be faithful, not only to each other, but also to ourselves. And it’s that that provides the most compelling of Scoop’s arguments for equality. If only more of us had recognised the hidden messages of Fatman Scoop and took up arm-in-arm for the Crooklyn Clan, then maybe, just maybe, we’d all be a little bit better off.
Perhaps it’s not too late just yet. Perhaps we all just need to be faithful.
This article appears on Junkee.