- It feels like the year 1994. You see Shaq on your television set doing commercials pitching everything across the board. This month though he has taken it to a new level by resurrecting his video game Shaq-Fu: a Legend Reborn for a new generation. As well as playing a prominent supporting role in Kyrie Irving’s film Uncle Drew. Back in 1994 Shaq was launching the original Shaq-Fu video game and making his acting debut in the film Blue Chips. It was also the year Shaq released his sophomore hip hop album, Shaq Fu: Da Return. He was coming off the success from his debut album Shaq Diesel released the previous year and had attained platinum status. He would go on to release several albums during the 90’s. When it came to the movies, videogames, and commercials for Shaq it has been about having fun and collecting a nice check. When it came to his music career though it was apparent that he wanted to be taken seriously.
When it was all said and done he released four albums with one going platinum and the other gold. Even managed to be nominated for a Grammy as well. Shaq would have some of the biggest heavyweight producers running the boards including the likes of Erick Sermon, Warren G, Trackmasters, Rza, and DJ Quik to name a few. While sharing the mic with Jay Z, Biggie, Nas, Rakim, Method Man, Mobb Deep, Ice Cube, Krs-One, B-Real, and others. Two standout tracks from his 1993 debut album Shaq Diesel were “I’m Outstanding” and “Shoot Pass Slam” both produced by legendary producer Erick Sermon.
Shaq – I’m Outstanding (prod. by Erick Sermon)
Shaq – Shoot Pass Slam (Remix) (prod. by Erick Sermon)
Shaq was able to continue experiencing commercial success with his 1994 album Shaq Fu: Da Return. Memorable tracks off this album included “No Hook” which had Shaq rapping alongside with Method Man and Rza form the Wu- Tang Clan. WIth Rza producing the track as well. As well as “Biological Didn’t Bother”. produced by Warren G. The track is considered to being of one of the most important songs of his career. A moving tribute to his stepfather raising him while his biological father had abandoned him.
Shaq – No Hook feat. Rza & Method Man
Shaq – Biological Didn’t Bother (G-Funk Version) (prod. by Warren G)
Shaq’s third album You Can’t Stop The Reign released in 1996 would be full of guest appearances which was a trend with hip hop albums at the time. On the album was a track called “No Love Lost”. On it Jay-Z and Lord Tariq appear with Shaq. However on a DJ Clue mixtape the original version appeared which also included Nas. Mobb Deep would also make an appearance on the song “Legal Money”. The apex of the album though was rapping alongside Rakim on “Game of Death” and Notorious Big on the title track “You Can’t Stop the Reign” which earned him a grammy nomination.
Shaq – No Love Lost feat. Nas, Jay Z, Lord Tariq
Shaq – Legal Money feat. Mobb Deep & Lord Tariq
Shaq – Game of Death feat. Rakim
Shaq – You Can’t Stop the Reign feat. Notorious Big
A track that was made during the recording sessions of You Can’t Stop the Reign but would not see the light of day till years later was The Bigger They R feat. Big Pun & Fat Joe. The reason why the track was not originally released was due to the edginess and the NBA thought it would be a public relations risk. Fortunately for fans though it did eventually pop up on the internet. As far as posse cuts are concerned “Men of Steel” off the movie soundtrack for Steel which starred Shaq as a DC Comic superhero. The relevancy of the track was that Ice Cube and B-Real from Cypress Hill had put an end to a very public beef. Also with KRS-One appearing with prominent West Coast artists that the media driven beef between the east and west was dying down. The last track to mention is Sunshine which featured Common and Black Thought. With Questlove from the Roots handling the production. It is off the project Shaquille O’Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol.1. The album itself was supposed to come out in 2001 but unfortunately never came out. If the rest of the album was on par with this track it would have done well on the charts.
Shaq – The Bigger They R feat. Big Pun & Fat Joe
Shaq – Men of Steel feat. Ice Cube, B-Real, Peter Gunz, & KRS-One
Shaq – Sunshine feat. Common & Black Thought
You can see by his body of work Shaq took hip hop very seriously. No other athlete who has attempted to dabble or crossover into the industry comes close to the success and impact Shaq had. Damian Lillard who goes by Dame D.O.L.L.A of the Portland Trailblazers at some point might be in the same conversation as Shaq regarding a meaningful rap career. Other than him though no one else can be in that conversation at this point. He brought a full complete total package of lyrics, well done production, and holding his own when alongside some of the greats.