After announcing on Vlive that fans should forget about his second mixtape for a few months, BTS‘s Suga surprised us all when he dropped D-2 abruptly on May 22, 2020. To be fair, Big Hit Entertainment had indeed been releasing a mysterious countdown, beginning with D-7 — except the actual album dropped on D-2. Another element to the surprise, planned by Suga himself. What a cheeky bugger.

D-2 is led by the title track “Daechwita” in which the Agust D of 2020 confronts the Agust D of 2016, who has now become King. “Daechiwta” is a visual and auditory romp, fueled by traditional Korean instruments and multiple references to historical events, a trap beat, and Suga’s aggressive confidence; and shows how far the idol-artist has come since “Agust D“.

But first, what is “daechwita”? For noobs like me, Wikipedia has the answer:

Daechwita (literally “great blowing and hitting”) is a genre of Korean traditional music consisting of military music played by wind and percussion instruments, generally performed while marching.

The word “daechwita” is aptly used as the refrain to the song, becoming a chant of victory for Agust D, and given the definition, perhaps also symbolizes a marching ARMY. The MV is loosely set in the Joseon era, with the occasional element from modern times. Watching it, one is immediately reminded of Mino‘s “Fiancé” which is also set in Joseon and where Mino also portrays a king, but that’s where the similarity ends. On the contrary, to properly appreciate “Daechwita”, one must go back to August 2016, and “Agust D“.

In the MV, two Agust Ds face off against one another. We are first introduced to blonde Agust D, of the 2016 MV. He bears a visible scar and has fought his way to the throne, and is now King. But he belongs to the past, and is fittingly styled as a Joseon ruler and resides in a regal palace. We next meet present day Agust D, dressed in modern day clothing and with access to modern day items, such as a car. He too wears the same scar, and will challenge past-Agust D for the throne.

Aggression underlines much of the MV. Dead bodies lie on the ground in caskets around the past Agust D, heads (covered in jute) hang from an execution ground as watches an execution. Similarly, the present Agust D walks in a meat market where the commoners have menacing expressions — some even getting into a fight (a hilarious cameo by Jin and Jungkook). In the lyrics, the King Agust D orders:

Who’s the king, who’s the boss?
Everyone knows my name
These bastards who are all talk
Cut his head off immediately!

He also runs his thumb across his neck, leaving no doubt as to its meaning. The King walks remorselessly towards the bodies in the palace, dances gleefully amidst kneeling black-robed court officials, and smirks over the heads in the execution ground. He’s a tyrant. It is no wonder then, that he is challenged. (As an aside, let me take a moment to mention that one of the actors in black robes was actually paid to be stepped on by Suga — that too in his deadly avatar as Agust D. Some people have all the luck.)

The challenge is raised in the execution ground by the present Agust D, who is later captured and brought before the King to be executed. But watch out, there’s a twist! With a wholly complete plot and excellent production, the MV is akin to a short movie. It’s also worth noting that their weapons of choice in the final face off also represent the past and the present. While the tyrant King has a sword, and demonstrates his skill with a sword dance, the present Agust D uses a gun.

This is, in essence, a fun, cinematic theme about the new mixtape, D-2, challenging the old one, Agust D. At the same time, Suga continues to assert his dominance in much the same was as he did in “Agust D”. First, there’s the fact that Suga’s own earlier persona, 2016’s Agust D, is King, and not any other person/artist. Second, the lyrics contain a few references to real life. At one point, when present day Agust D is running amok in the execution ground with the tyrant watching, Suga refers to “Bang Shi-hyuk PD” as dancing as their (BTS’s) revenue refuses to go down. At another point, he appears to diss Show Me The Money and other such shows. It’s a veiled reference to a talent show.

Calling me a dog, it doesn’t make sense
I was born a tiger, I’m not weak like you at least
A talent show of petty little shits
Honestly, I find it fucking ludicrous

Third, the lyrics and MV also pick up themes of dominance from Agust D. For instance, Show Me The Money is mentioned in “The Last“. At another point in the MV, present day Suga conspicuously puts on a watch — reminding the viewer of the Rolex also mentioned in “The Last”. A similar assertion to the first two lines in the quote above can be found in “Give It To Me“. Finally, Suga introduces new themes to assert his dominance, including references to Joseon Kings (Gwanghae-gun), historical events (the “rice chest“) and his own brag:

I’m so thankful that I’m a genius
Doing drugs for such a petty excuse, I feel sorry for you, it’s just that you have no talent

What makes the MV even more fun is the fact that its opens room for other interpretations. Whether it is a social commentary on the oppressed lower class taking out those in power, or a metaphor for Suga moving past many of the vulnerabilities he laid bare in Agust D, such as the idol-rapper conflict and his mental health struggles mentioned in “The Last”, there’s room for all kinds of theories.

If I had to make any complaints at all, it would be that the assertion of dominance in the lyrics & MV is the same theme as that of “Agust D“. However, its execution and presentation is so creative and so much fun, that it hardly matters. In addition to the sageuk-like MV and the plot twist that was hinted at early on, there’s a hilarious scene with Bang PD’s poster in addition to the aforementioned cameo by Jin and Jungkook. It’s also heartwarming to see that present day Agust D’s gang has six members, representing BTS’s six members, and briefly, a seventh, a woman representing ARMY.

Sonically, the song shows how far Suga’s songwriting and producing skills have come in the last four years. Big Hit’s production is notable for its attention to detail — and Suga has been picking up the tricks of the trade. For instance, a shrill scream follows “Cut his head off immediately!”. While ostensibly using a trap beat, the song uses a gong to melodic effect, cymbals and percussion instruments to create movement, and samples “Daechwita” by the National Gugak Center. Suga has been experimenting with traditional Korean instruments for a while now (see: “Ddaeng” (2018), “Ugh” (MOTS:7, 2020)), and this is by far, his most refined release yet.

In contrast to “Agust D” which is more angry, “Daechwita” is more fun. Amidst all the aggression and implied violence, Suga delivers a visual and auditory experience that not only showcases his growth as an artist and re-asserts his dominance, but also delivers laughs, a hilarious new look for the idol, and much-needed cheer for fans in this era of global pandemic.

(Wikipedia, YouTube; Images via Big Hit Entertainment, Lyrics via doolsetbangtan)