"No Diggity"
Single by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen
from the album Another Level
ReleasedJuly 29, 1996 (1996-07-29)[1]
Recorded1996
Genre
Length
  • 5:03
  • 4:27 (music video)
LabelInterscope
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Teddy Riley
  • William "Skylz" Stewart
Blackstreet singles chronology
"Tonight's the Night"
(1995)
"No Diggity"
(1996)
"(Money Can't) Buy Me Love"
(1997)
Dr. Dre singles chronology
"California Love"
(1995)
"No Diggity"
(1996)
"Been There, Done That"
(1996)
Music video
"No Diggity" on YouTube

"No Diggity" is a song by American R&B group Blackstreet as the first single for their second studio album, Another Level (1996), featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. Released on July 29, 1996, the song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and in Iceland and New Zealand. "No Diggity" ended "Macarena"'s 14-week reign atop the Billboard Hot 100. In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number nine. "No Diggity" was the final number-one single of Cash Box magazine. The track sold 1.6 million copies in 1996 and won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The song ranked at number 91 on Rolling Stone and MTV's "100 Greatest Pop Songs". It was also ranked at number 32 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s", number 407 on Q Magazine's "1001 Best Songs Ever",[2] number 33 on Blender's "Greatest Songs Since You Were Born",[3] and number 43 on NME's "100 Best Songs of the 1990s".[4]

Background

Co-producer Teddy Riley originally offered the song to Guy as part of their short-lived reunion in 1996. After failing to record any material, he then suggested the song to Guy's lead singer Aaron Hall, who refused to take part in recording the song.[5] He then offered the song to his other group Blackstreet. In a 2010 interview, Riley revealed the song was initially a hard sell among group members. He stated:

"None of the guys liked 'No Diggity'. None of them. They would even say it. That's why I'm singing the first verse. You know how they say they pushed the little one out there to see if it tastes good and see if he would get egged? Well they pushed me out there – and it became a hit. And now they wish they were singing the first verse, so that they can have the notoriety like me. So they trust what I'm saying..."[6]

While credited to Teddy Riley, the musical backing is actually an incognito production by Dr. Dre, who was in the process of extricating himself from his label Death Row Records.[citation needed] The beat to "No Diggity" was initially offered to rapper 2Pac for his Death Row debut All Eyez On Me by label boss Suge Knight, but with Dre leaving the label he sold the beat to Teddy Riley. Upon the release of the finished recording by Blackstreet, Tupac and Death Row responded with a diss track containing numerous insults aimed at Dr. Dre over an instrumental sampling "No Diggity", but were forced to replace the production after Blackstreet issued the label with a cease and desist order stopping them from distributing the song.[7] An updated version of this response, "Toss It Up", would be released under his Makaveli alias just days after his death, featuring Aaron Hall.

Content

In between Blackstreet's sung verses there are rap verses performed by Dre, Teddy Riley and Queen Pen. There is a radio version that excludes both rappers and features Blackstreet only, tailor-made for airplay on Adult R&B stations.[citation needed]

The song's musical backing track is an altered sample from the beginning of "Grandma's Hands" by R&B singer Bill Withers.[8][9]

Critical reception

The song garnered acclaim from music critics. Bill Lamb from About.com complimented the song as "the peak of the work" created by Teddy Riley, "a key architect of new jack swing. "No Diggity" is that genre fully refined."[10] James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly wrote that "beatwise, it struts confidently, accompanied by a light keyboard action. Voices, including guest Dr. Dre's, croon and rap with a sexual urgency notable even by today's standards."[11] Tom Ewing of Freaky Trigger noted that the song "is first of all capitalism in its slinkiest form, in every sense classy. A hymn to money, sex, upward mobility, 'No Diggity' triumphs over every other swingbeat anthem because it walks it so much like it talks it."[12] A reviewer from Knight Ridder described the song as a "uptempo excursion" and a "pointed, post-hiphop strut".[13] Tony Farsides from Music Week's RM Dance Update rated it four out of five. He commented, "A real grower which is already popular in the clubs, the song features Blackstreet's trademark harmonies interspersed with rap and a killer grand piano sample following the chorus. Unlikely to cross over but a good bet for r&b fans and the lower reaches of the charts."[14]

Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times stated that sampling Bill Withers's bluesy Grandma's Hands and fitting it with a swingbeat base, "the song is instantly transformed into a hip-hop masterpiece of unimaginable brilliance."[15] Jon Pareles from New York Times noted that the track "uses a spiky Bill Withers guitar lick and a rap by Dr. Dre promising that listeners will be "giving up eargasms with my mellow accent."[16] NME called it "such a classy concoction of urban swagger and classic R&B".[17] People Magazine said that "by combining R&B vocals with hip hop's aggressive beats", "that powerful one-two punch flavors "No Diggity", which takes a nasty Delta blues riff and marries it to lip-smacking lasciviousness. The result is an instant, five-minute pop classic."[18] Michael A. Gonzales for Vibe wrote that "with a mellow D-Funk rap intro from Dr. Dre, this track pumps like a Lexus roaring down 125th Street as the Harlem neighborhood hotties look on with glee. "I can't get her outta my mind / I think about the girl all the time", Teddy whines about his object of desire, over haunting keyboards and astonishingly bouncy, minimalist production."[19]

Music video

The accompanying music video for the song is directed by Hype Williams[20] and features Blackstreet members in front of a beachhouse standing in the sand, dancers in a wet road surrounded by black limousines, and a marionette playing the piano sample in a club. It was nominated for Best R&B Video and Best Rap Video on 1997's MTV Video Music Awards.[citation needed]

Impact and legacy

Q Magazine ranked it at number 407 in their list of "1001 Best Songs Ever" in 2003.[21] Blender listed "No Diggity" at number 33 on their ranking of "Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" in 2005.[22] Slant Magazine listed the song at number 15 in their ranking of "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s" in 2011.[23] NME placed it at number 43 on their "100 Best Songs Of The 1990s" list in 2012.[24] Porcys listed the song at number 80 in their ranking of "100 Singles 1990-1999" in 2012, noting that it "probably [is] Riley's most perfect pop moment."[25] VH1 put it on number 32 in their list of "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s".

Track listing

Australian CD single

No.TitleLength
1."No Diggity (LP Version)"5:03
2."No Diggity (clean version)"5:03
3."No Diggity (Billie Jean Remix)"5:38
4."No Diggity (All Star Remix)"4:44
5."No Diggity (Instrumental)"5:03
Total length:25:31

Personnel

Published by Donrill Music/Zomba Enterprises, Inc. (ASCAP/Chauncey Black Music for Smokin' Sounds [ASCAP]/Queenpen Music (ASCAP)/Sidi Music (BMI)/Sony Songs Inc./Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But Fuckin' (ASCAP).

Track was mixed by Serban Ghenea and recorded by George Mayers, John Hanes, Sean Poland and Chris Johnson for Future Recording Studios, Virginia Beach, VA. Track mastered by Herb Powers at Hit Factory, New York, NY.

Queen Pen appears courtesy of Funky Mama Productions/Interscope Records. Dr. Dre appears courtesy of Aftermath Entertainment.

Track contains portions of "Grandma's Hands" written by Bill Withers and published by Interior Music Corp./Avant Garde Music Publishing, Inc. performed by Bill Withers, used courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment.

All-Star Remix contains a sample of "As Long As I've Got You", written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter and performed by The Charmels. Will Remix contains a mimic of "Cell Therapy", written by Barnett, Burton, Gipp and Knighton and performed by Goodie Mob.

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[72] Gold 35,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[73] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[74] Platinum 10,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[75] Gold  
Sweden (GLF)[76] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[77] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[79] Platinum 1,600,000[78]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States July 23, 1996 (1996-07-23) Promotional 12-inch vinyl Interscope [1]
July 29, 1996 (1996-07-29) Rhythmic contemporary radio
United States October 1, 1996 (1996-10-01)
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
[79]
United Kingdom October 7, 1996 (1996-10-07) [80]

Lucas & Steve version

Blackstreet re-recorded their vocals for a house version of "No Diggity" with Dutch DJs Lucas & Steve via Spinnin' Records.[81]

Chart performance for "No Diggity"
Chart (2021) Peak
position
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[82] 83
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[83] 47

Cover versions

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