Shaq’s Overlooked Rap Success

ShaqDr. Shaquille Rashaun O’Nealis a retired rapper, NBA legend, and current basketball analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA.  Although Shaq, as he’s affectionately known,  is most known for his amazing NBA career, his ephemeral rap success is deserving of critical attention.  It’s not often that professional athletes have been able to effectively make the crossover into the music industry.  Shaq was able to experience significant achievements as a rapper, and his success ended when he decided to discontinue his rap music endeavors.  Although the success he had as a rapper was shocking to many people, his music accomplishments are undeniable.

Shaq Diesel (1993), O’Neal’s debut professional album, earned platinum status in March of 1994.  The album was released by Jive Records.  Unlike most new artists who enter the music industry, Shaq Diesel CDShaq was able to benefit from his tremendous popularity as an NBA star with great name recognition.  His stardom translated into music fans’ support and album sales.  Shaq Diesel reached #25 on the Billboard 200 chart.  Three singles from the album garnered noteworthy accomplishments: “(I Know I Got) Skillz,” “I’m Outstanding” and “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock).”  “(I Know I Got) Skillz” peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and “I’m Outstanding” peaked at #47 on the same chart.  “(I Know I Got) Skillz” earned gold status in 1993.  “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” was certified gold in 1993 and peaked at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

1994‘s Shaq Fu: Da Return (Jive Records) is the second professional album by Shaquille O’Neal.  It did not gain the acclaim Shaq Diesel was able to enjoy, but it did peak at #67 on the Billboard 200 and #19 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.  This album was certified gold, and featured some notable producers: Method Man, Redman, Warren G, RZA and Erick Sermon.

Shaq’s third album, You Can’t Stop the Reign, was released by Interscope Records in 1996 and produced by DJ Quik, Poke and Tone, Mobb Deep and Easy Mo Bee.  It reached #82 on the Billboard 200 and #21 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.  As a testament to Shaq’s rapping prowess, Biggie Smalls was featured on “You Can’t Stop the Reign,” one of the album’s singles.  Biggie Smalls’ lyrics from “You Can’t Stop the Reign” were used in Michael Jackson’s “Unbreakable,” from Jackson’s last album, Invincible (2001).

Even though Dr. O’Neal had a short-lived rap career, he was able to achieve some remarkable accomplishments.  Some artists who have been in the music industry far longer than Shaq have not surpassed his artistic success.        

–Antonio Maurice Daniels

Antonio Maurice Daniels is a Research Associate and Ph.D. student in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He blogs regularly for his cultural commentary blog, Revolutionary Paideia.  His works have been featured widely in academic and popular online publications, including Mused MagazineUp 4 DiscussionFrom Ashy to ClassyThe Black Man CanHealthy Black Men Magazine and etc.  Follow him on Twitter at @paideiarebel.

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