The Meaning of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”

In 1996, Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” took the world by storm when it was released as the first single from the group’s second album, Another Level. Featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen, it de-throned “Macarena” from its 14-week run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and it had people everywhere grooving, adding the phrase “No Diggity” to their daily vernacular.

The phrase “no diggity” is a slang term meaning “no doubt” that has been around since before the Blackstreet song, however it was their song that made the phrase famous.

When people say this, they say it in response to something they agree with. For example, if you were to ask me if I enjoy the hit song that I’m currently writing about, my response would be “No Diggity”, because I think it’s an excellent song.

Blackstreet’s use of the phrase in the lyrics to “No Diggity” comes in the context of a stripper or sex worker whom they would like to get down with, so to speak. We first hear this in the intro, when they talk about how they “like the Playettes”.

Dr Dre then opens things up, with a verse about making moves and attracting women, and then passing the mic to Blackstreet’s Teddy Riley and Chauncey “Black” Hannibal:

It’s going down, fade to Blackstreet
The homies got at me, collab’ creations, bump like acne
No doubt, I put it down, never slouch
As long as my credit can vouch
A dog couldn’t catch me ass out
Tell me who can stop when Dre makin’ moves
Attracting honeys like a magnet
Giving ’em eargasms with my mellow accent
Still moving this flavor
With the homies Blackstreet and Teddy
The original rump shakers

Dr. Dre’s verse in “No Diggity”.

Dre’s contribution to “No Diggity” is a bit off-theme from the rest of the song, but it does work as an introduction to the vibe of the rest of the song. He sets a nice cadence and helps prepare us for the groovy R&B vibes to come later.

Blackstreet at the 1997 Europe Music Awards. Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns.

Teddy Riley is up next, with some of these groovy R&B vibes, and lyrics that bring us into the real lyrical theme of the song: praising a successful stripper or hooker who makes a lot of money.

Riley describes her game, running the town with “tricks in the stash” (plenty of clients), before revealing that he’d like to get involved with her, too:

Shorty get down, good Lord
Baby, got ’em open all over town
Strictly biz, she don’t play around
Cover much grounds, got game by the pound
Getting paid is her forte
Each and every day, true player way
I can’t get her out of my mind (Wow)
I think about the girl all the time (Wow wow)
East side to the west side
Pushin’ phat rides, it’s no surprise
She got tricks in the stash, stacking up the cash
Fast when it comes to the gas
By no means average
She’s on when she’s got to have it
Baby, you’re a perfect ten, I wanna get in
Can I get down so I can win?

Teddy Riley’s verse in “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.

Then, we have the song’s famous hook, which brings the title phrase back into the song, with Teddy Riley and Chauncey “Black” Hannibal singing about their desire to indulge in the services of this woman:

I like the way you work it
No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up
I like the way you work it
No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up, girl
I like the way you work it
No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up
I like the way you work it
No diggity, I got to bag it up, get up

Chorus to “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.

You may assume that when they sing “bag it up,” they’re talking about putting your purchases in a bag at say, a grocery store. However, the lyrics may also refer to “bagging it up” as in wearing a condom.

Next up is a verse from Chauncey “Black” Hannibal, with lyrics that further describe this lady of the night, how she acts and how you have to avoid catching feelings if you want to hang with her:

She’s got class and style
Street knowledge by the pound
Baby never act wild, very low key on the profile
Catchin’ feelings is a no
Let me tell you how it goes
Herb’s the word, spin’s the verb
Lovers it curves so freak, what you heard?
Rollin’ with the phatness
You don’t even know what the half is
You gotta pay to play
Just for shorty, bang-bang, to look your way
I like the way you work it
Trump tight all day, every day
You’re blowing my mind, maybe in time
Baby, I can get you in my ride

Chauncey “Black” Hannibal’s verse in “No Diggity”.

After Chauncey’s verse comes another hit of that glorious chorus before Queen Pen pops in with the female perspective, describing herself as one of these playettes that the song is centered around.

She also notably references herself as a lesbian, something that was still extremely taboo in the 90s, and something that Queen Pen caught a lot of controversy over, especially with her 1998 song “Girlfriend”.

In “No Diggity,” Queen Pen plays the role of playette, but doesn’t mention the sex work side of things, instead choosing to focus on how she keeps it real and stacks paper:

‘Cause that’s my peeps, and we rolls deep
Flyin’ first class from New York City to Blackstreet
What you know about me? Not a m-f- thing
Cartier wooden frames sported by my shorty
As for me, icy gleaming pinky diamond ring
We be’s the baddest clique up on the scene
Ain’t you getting bored with these fake ass broads?
I shows and proves, no doubt, how predictably so
Please excuse, if I come across rude, that’s just me
And that’s how the playette’s got to be
Stay kickin’ game with a capital G
Ask the peoples on my block, I’m as real as can be
Word is bond, faking moves never been my thing
So, Teddy, pass the word to your ni- Chauncy
I be sending the call, let’s say around 3:30
Queen Pen and Blackstreet, it’s no diggity
No diggity, no doubt baby

Queen Pen’s verse to “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.

“No Diggity” is high among the ranks of memorable 90s hip-hop and R&B songs, coming during an era that many see as the golden age of these genres.

The grooves are immaculate, and the rhymes have an unmistakable charisma that gives the music its longstanding qualities. Here the immaculate grooves are due in part to a sample of Bill Withers’ 1971 song “Grandma’s Hands” on the hook.

Watch the music video for Blackstreet’s signature song, “No Diggity” below.

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