Shaq has always been a bit of a lovable clown and his rap career has plenty of cheesy moments to support that reputation. Even so, Shaq belongs near the top of any Raplete Ranking. That is a testament of how weak the competition, but it is also a matter of giving proper respect where it is due. O’Neal’s debut album Shaq Diesel went platinum. No other raplete comes close to matching that success.
Being a legendary emcee isn’t simply about moving units. After all, Soulja Boy went platinum too. Shaq’s natural flow is actually pretty decent and his baritone delivery is pleasing to the ear. His verses are peppered with plenty of wack lines, but there are just as many creative punch lines like this one from the song What’s Up Doc with Fu-Schnickens:
Forget Tony Danza, I’m the boss/When it comes to money I’m like Dick DeVos
Shaq compares his finances to that of the Orlando Magic owner while at the same time making a Who’s the Boss reference, and the rest of the verse is solid too.
Fu-Schnickens is just one line on an impressive list of emcees that deemed Shaq worthy of sharing a track with them, a list that includes Phife Dawg, Method Man, RZA, Redman, Warren G, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z. O’Neal also has an abundant array of nicknames and aliases on par with most rappers, like The Diesel, Shaq Daddy, Shaq Fu, and The Big Aristotle just to name a few.
Two Shaq tracks that have received commercial and critical success are the laid back Erick Sermon produced Outstanding and Biological Didn’t Bother, a bastard’s anthem catchy enough to have Jon Snow nodding his head. The league even supported O’Neal’s rap career consenting to NBA game footage being used in this official video for the song Shoot Pass Slam. The chorus is a call and response with Shaq asking:
Do you want me to shoot it? No!/Do you want me to pass it? No!/Do you want me to slam it? Yeah!
Of course the crowd is going to scream “No!” to the prospect of someone with a 52.7 career free throw percentage shooting the ball when given the option.
Enough with the highlights. It’s time to touch on some of the lowlights of Shaq’s rap career. The verses on the single (I Know I Got) Skillz are god-awful. A sampling of lyrics from the first verse [with my analysis]:
You wanna fight? Come fight me/ ’ll hit ya with the wa-psh-psh-psh, see, see
[If you weren’t afraid of fighting Shaq already, I’m sure those sound effects would do it.]
I get dirty after dark, I’ll treat you like Spielberg/You’ll get your ass kicked in the park
[Get it? Jur-ass-kicked in the park. Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Is that brilliant or one of the worst lyrics ever? It is a fine line sometimes.]
You better than the Shaq-tack, fool, Shut up liar/I lean on the Statue of Liberty when I get tired
Then I’ll punch you in the stomach, I don’t give a heck
[Watch the language, Ned Flanders.]
If we were ranking actletes (actor + athlete) rather than rapletes, Shaq would be near the bottom. Blue Chips was a respectable movie, but Steel makes Real Steel look like Citizen Kane. 1996’s Kazaam combines the worst of both worlds with Shaquille as a rapping genie. Kazaam is an abomination to mankind as evidenced by this rap scene from the movie. Stick with it ‘til the end. Trust me it is worth it, especially at the 2:10 – 2:30 mark. “Let’s green egg and ham it?”
Shaq’s flow and lyricism seemed to get better with age. He holds his own rapping with Jay-Z on No Love Lost, but his skills were inversely related to the amount of craps people gave about his raps. In 2008, Shaq’s rapping did manage to grab the spotlight one more time. Shortly after the Kobe’s Lakers failed to beat the Celtics in the finals, the Sun went down and Shaq was brought to the stage at a party to rap. Shaq brought the Heat in a freestyle that touted his vasectomy, blamed Kobe for his divorce, and left the crowd chanting: “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes!” It was a Cavalier move on O’Neal’s part, but it was truly Magic.[related-posts]