Shaquille O’Neal is back behind the mic 30 years after scoring his first Top 40 hit.
In recent years, O’Neal, 51, has embraced EDM via his DJ persona, DIESEL, but the “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” rapper reminded the world he hadn’t forgotten his hip-hop roots by joining Rick Ross and Meek Mill on their new collab album. Too Good Be True, released on Friday, November 10, closes out with a remix of the album’s lead single, “SHAQ & KOBE,” featuring the four-time NBA champion rapping alongside his fellow baller, Damian Lillard (who raps under his Dame D.O.L.L.A. persona.)
“While I sit on my throne / I reminisce at how long I been in my zone / I find ’em and remind ’em, ’cause y’all the kind to forget,” raps O’Neal, adding, “How I kept the show on the road all the time, but I got my kicks / I did it my way, that got me rich.”
Lillard, 33, as DAME D.O.L.L.A., also worked some basketball imagery into his verse. “I’m shot callin’ / Not stallin’ and not hoggin’ / Pass the ball, we runnin’ it up and we not joggin’ / It’s team us, we shrink the circle and lean up / And when we on the scene, they gon’ know that we seen much,” raps the seven-time NBA All-Star.
Ross, 47, and Mill, 36, released the O’Neal/Lillard remix of “SHAQ & KOBE” ahead of Too Good To Be True’s drop, but the song gained new focus when the full album arrived. The eagerly-anticipated project also features appearances by French Montana (“Millionaire Row”), Future (“In Luv With The Money”), Wale and The-Dream (“Fine Lines”), Teyana Taylor and DJ Khaled (“Above The Law”), Vory and Fabolous (“Dead Last”), production duo Cool & Dre and BEAM (“Go To Hell”) and Jeremih (“Gold Medals”).
The world got to know O’Neal as a rapper in 1993, when “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” from his debut album, Shaq Diesel, soared to the top of the charts. The second single, “(I Know I Got) Skillz,” was another Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, but subsequent singles — including 1997’s “You Can’t Stop The Reign,” featuring The Notorious B.I.G. — failed to replicate that success.
After dropping Shaquille O’Neal Presents His Superfriends Vol. 1 in 2001, he stepped back from hip-hop to seemingly focus on his growing interest in EDM.
Earlier this year, O’Neal — as his DIESEL persona — dropped his debut EDM album, Gorilla Warfare, via Monstercat. O’Neal teamed up with his friend and producer Brian Bayati to curate the track list and recruit young talent that the retired athlete wanted to showcase.
“Brian and I are real DJs — from the crate era,” O’Neal told Variety when discussing the album. “I had to go and steal milk crates. I used all my money from cutting grass to buy records. I had SP-1200s sampling workstations and a Gemini mixer. I was a battle DJ.”
O’Neal acknowledged that he was “in the celebrity DJ box and had to prove myself.” After performing at Lollapalooza in 2019, O’Neal has paid his dues by performing at Lost Lands, Tomorrowland, EDC LV, Electric Zoo, Forbidden Kingdom, Beyond Wonderland, and a Vegas residency at Wynn.
O’Neal also shared that his recent run as DIESEL has scratched an itch he had ever since retiring from professional basketball in 2011. “In the NBA and the championships, you have parades, but then it’s all gone, and you need it back,” he explained. “I went to Tomorrowland and saw Tiesto with 100,000 people out there. I got that feeling back. I thought, ‘I’ve been DJing since ’88, let me try.’”