Priyanka Sangolkar, Nagpur, Maharashtra
“Ddaeng” is one of several tracks released as part of BTS’ 2018 Festa celebration exclusively on SoundCloud. The rap line of BTS; RM, SUGA and j-hope served the fans with a rampageous hip-hop track co-produced by SUGA addressing how far the group has come despite the animosity they faced. It’s a song that has an oriental and trap beat at the same time. Adding how it’s also a diss track sending messages to their haters. But the wordplay within the song is just prodigious. For example, the title Ddaeng itself is used in multiple ways throughout the whole song.
“Ddaeng” is an onomatopoeic word that emulates the sound of a ‘school bell’ which is comparable to ‘ding’ in English and is also the sound in a game when the answer is ‘wrong.’ ‘1-8, 1-3, and 3-8‘ are all card combinations that come from a Korean card game called Seotda or Hwatu. These may be thought of as the highest card combinations one can get during a game. For example, 3 (Sam) and 8 (Pal) which is called “Sam Pal Ddaeng” is the ultimate pair that nothing can beat. Thus, the first pair of Ddaeng here can be translated into invincible.
Each of the meanings that appears in the song’s lyrics, with the trio’s subtle, playful jabs referencing school bells, the card game and, of course, BTS’ immense good fortune to be able to have climbed the ranks of a highly competitive industry.
j-hope’s verse describes the criticism they received in the early ages about their Hip-hop or Rap-style. He explains that now they’ve become a Worldwide ‘BANG’ from a ‘DDAENG.’ He describes that now they have money, and a nice house and are living the dream life while crediting this success to the ARMY. He asks the haters if they aren’t dumbfounded at BTS’s success, why to even compare and make a fuss over it? He asks them to think calmly and do their homework and if they still can’t figure it out, then their answer is “ddaeng” (wrong). Your problem is unsolvable.
SUGA’s verse is a bit tricky. The usage of ddaeng suddenly changed without any notice. The first Ddaeng indicate the meaning of wrong or nope. But then he talks about ‘Gukpal’ meaning influence or power or a winning streak like in games thus connecting the lyrics back to ‘Hwatu’ card game. There is a sarcastic tone to his verse saying, “he doesn’t care at all“ thanking all the haters for showing hate and all their claims to be right. In one of the lines Suga drawls- “Billboard is all thanks to you, bae; No one else is above us.” He is telling them to keep ignoring BTS because of all the disregard, they still reached Billboard. Further he thanks the other members of small companies and hopes they become big soon, setting BTS as an example for the newcomers.
SUGA ends his verse by saying “kkeut” that could be a double translation as it is a unit for counting points scored when playing ‘hwatu’ but here it means the end “Continue worrying about us ‘Low pointers'(Losers); The END.”
RM has the best verse in this song where he calmly disses haters. He compares the sound of the cashier calculating bills to Ddaeng taking a jab at haters for the amount of money BTS is earning. “I’m ding-dong; you’re ddaeng” referring to haters being ‘wrong’ and himself being ‘correct.’ His verse comprises a unique and iconic stutter indicating that even if his voice is weak and even if he stutters he is unstoppable.
“Rappers who don’t even have haters, just shut up;
Where are your haters;
Look into this mirror after washing your eyes and face;
There’s a hater of your right in there;
We celebrate rather than being celebrities;
Only acceleration no break;
What are you to approve me;
Frogs who live up to your name;
I hope you die in the well.”
“We celebrate rather than being celebrities”; this line shows BTS’s attitude or mentality of being a celebrity in a nutshell. It’s not about being special or enjoying the spotlight. It’s about sharing and returning the love they received by celebrating together. “Frogs who live up to your name I hope you die in the well”; this is about the story “The frog in the well.” It’s a story about a frog that lived in a well, thinking that the small well is the entire world even though a bigger world lies outside. This part portrays how you believe you are living up to your title but look at the bigger world outside of yours. Watch the performance here:
Have you heard this song? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!