Oneus is always trying something new, always going that extra step—with their concepts, music, and their music videos. The six-member group reached a turning point in Mnet’s Road to Kingdom, narrowly slipping out of elimination territory and surviving against the odds. As the show concluded, they capitalized on this exposure by releasing extravagant (and dark) narrative tracks, “Come Back Home” and their first post-Road to Kingdom comeback, “To Be or Not To Be.”
Oneus has reached another turning point with “No Diggity.” Not only did their latest release garner four million views in 24 hours—a personal record for the two-year-old group—but the title track also clinched the second spot on the U.S. iTunes K-pop Chart after BTS’ “Dynamite.” On an artistry level, the “No Diggity” MV features Oneus’ raw expressions as they reach a point of absolute frenzy.
Although the English title is “No Diggity,” the Korean title is “반박불가,” means “unable to be refuted,” which is similar to the American slang, “no diggity” or “no doubt.” This phrase is credited to originate with the American hip-hop/R&B group, Blackstreet with their 1996 songs of the same name. Oneus’ MV translates “반박불가” as “no diggity” in the chorus, where the most emphasis falls on “no diggity for our love.”
Note: This MV may not be suited for those uncomfortable with intense flashing lights.
In the lyrics, the members guard their girl from the advances of another, drawing out their protective—but also possessive—side. Since Oneus wanted an English title as well as a Korean one, although 반박불가 personally sounds better because the members who have this line all but spit the word out, but the choice to use “no diggity” does make sense.
As to how “No Diggity” fits as the title track for their album called Devil, one of Leedo’s rap verses answers this question. His lyrics are not the first time they step into aggressively possessive territory:
“Between the Earth and the Moon
Between Adam and Eve
There never was a place for another planet
You’re the serpent in our Eden
Spreading bad vibes in our garden”
Meanwhile, there is delicious irony with their “Intro: Devil is in the detail” and “No diggity,” which follows the former in the tracklist order. The MV is dominated by wild camera movements, constant tilting, and sharp angles as well as persistent flashing lights that increase in intensity. These surface refuse viewers to actually digest many of the details, especially on the first watch. The eye cannot focus on much behind the flashing lights and the rapid camera movement. Viewers are smack in the middle of Oneus’ mayhem.
The devil is in the details: unlike their past heavily narrative comebacks, “No Diggity” showcases Oneus’ emotions as chaos builds and prevails. The six become more and more wild and unhinged as the song progresses. Their brilliant and piercing facial expressions are often shown only for a split second, but their expression control makes this MV something beyond the overwhelming aesthetics.
Notable mentions are Hwanwoong, Leedo, and Ravn. Unfortunately, all the moments cannot be included or we would be here all day. One of Leedo’s solo shots features a rare moment when the camera is fixed. Cannonballs of paint explode onto the wall behind the rapper, aligning with the drum beats. In fact, Leedo fired these cannonballs himself; he is both the instigator and the target. Leedo remains still in the center of the frame, his gaze piercing through the screen. Following a few cuts to the group choreography where the camera tilts dramatically, the focus returns to Leedo’s solo set by cutting to a close-up of his face. Static hides his features until it clears, and his blank expression transforms into a smirk for less than a second.
Eldest member Ravn and electric-pink-haired Hwanwoong also capture the eye. Hwanwoong naturally stands out with his brightly dyed locks, his powerful dancing, and his delightfully surprising facial expressions. During one of his solo moments, he sticks out his tongue and dances away from the camera, a simple action that is humorous but sinister at the same time. Hwanwoong’s expressions completely embody the emotion of “No Diggity,” where Oneus slowly unravels, feeding the flames of the persistent mayhem they created until it explodes in the last chorus.
Oneus’s other main rapper unleashes a wild side of himself, no longer holding back. Ravn lets out a ferocious full-body roar of “Dra-da-da-da” as the MV climbs towards its climax. Earlier, his frenzy is on display when he unexpectedly widens his eyes and the camera zooms close to his face as he accentuates, “We all go BAAM.” There are a plethora of well-timed facial expressions that shock viewers. They are there and then they are gone as soon as they appear, barely giving viewers any time to react.
These expressions are granted even more force because of the instability created by overload of details found in the MV. Oneus want this chaos, and they thrive on it. The resonant drum beats in the opening punch as they announce the arrival of Oneus. “No Diggity” possesses more of a rock feel, which is refreshing, and the vocals of Keonhee and Seoho do not disappoint, especially in the pre-chorus. The chorus is more sparse, but the drums and the guitar hook keep things instrumentally interesting, while the choreography and the dizzying MV captures the eye.
The MV relies on rapid and heavy cutting, constant action within the camera frame, and tilting camera movements that are jerky more often than not. The camera is onto the next angle and shot before viewers can comprehend the last perspective. Sometimes the camera does follow a smoother track, such as for Keonhee and Seoho’s solo shots, which is a contrast that only heightens the other rocking movements.
The intense flashing lights that grow more chaotic as the dance breaks arrive also build a disorienting scene, and neon blues, pinks, and greens characterize the palette of the MV. There is also the juxtaposition of red and green, so there is natural tension in the use of these complementary colors. These reds and fire, which is a recurring symbol, are not cozy. They are not there to give warmth but rather to destroy. The fire is a wild and untamed element in “No Diggity.”
As the track hurtles towards the final chorus, Xion in white produces a contrast with the rapidly escalating mayhem as Oneus unravels even more. The youngest member’s calculated scene of relative stillness strengthens the force behind the frenzy, as viewers unconsciously notice the subtle contrast. The fixed camera captures a glimpse of Xion in all white with strands floating behind him like wings and a teal-tinged fog parting around him. He stares directly at the camera, frozen in place with the slightest motion apparent in the frame.
Xion’s stillness juxtaposes with the flashing lights and exaggerated camera angles, while the frigid colors contrast with the fiery reds found in the shots that bookend his scene. He is a brief second of relief before the second dance break where the intensity grows to frightening levels of ferocity as Oneus unleash their chaos. The lights streak even more intensely in short pulses and the camera jerks between members (notably between Leedo and Seoho) and slashes across Hwanwoong’s face, highlighting his snarl.
The ending of “No Diggity” raises the question, “where does it lead?” Keonhee walks in the center of the frame towards the camera as a funky guitar hook accompanies him. For once, the camera does not swing from side-to-side. As Keonhee halts, the camera tilts down, and the main vocalist suddenly has five reflections—the other members.
Since he out of the six brings the most aesthetics from their past storylines of princes with his rich red outfit, pearls around his neck, and an elegant banquet set for his solo shots, are the other members of Oneus Keonhee’s alter-egos? The rest are cast in alarm red, losing many of the details of their faces and their clothing. Is “No Diggity” and Devil the start of another narrative, like how “Come Back Home” flows into “To Be or Not To Be?” These questions can only be answered in time.
Meanwhile, “No Diggity” is chaotic, brimming with unfiltered emotions, overwhelming, and tumultuous. Most of all, viewers see Oneus wholeheartedly connecting themselves with the emotion of the track and unleashing brilliant facial expressions that elicit well-timed moments of surprise, drawing viewers back for more. The six members teeter on the edge, but this calculated instability and dizzying experience showcase how far their performances can go and what Oneus are capable of. And they are only getting started.
(YouTube. Naver, Twitter, Urban Dictionary, Korean Culture Centre & the Korea-Canada Blog. Images via RBW Entertainment.)