Shaq on His Rap Career: "I Probably Was a Lucky Platinum Artist"

On the cusp of his hall of fame induction, Shaq talks about his platinum rap career.

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Complex Original

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Multiple NBA Championships? Check. League MVP? Check. Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame? Check.

Out of all of the accolades that Shaquille O’Neal picked up in his career as a basketball player, there is one that seems to be undermined: a platinum album. Yes, it’s true. Shaquille O’Neal has an RIAA-certified platinum plaque for his 1993 debut album Shaq Diesel.

“I probably was a lucky platinum artist. There were probably some Shaq fans that bought it,” he said. “Then there were the Shaq-haters that bought it because they wanted to boo me and say that I can’t rap. You add all of that together and it becomes a million copies.”

Shaq says selling a Shaq-sized amount of records was never his intention. It was more about getting in the studio with his friends and favorite MCs. He likened recording his four solo albums to how he would step out on the basketball court as a kid and pretend to be Magic Johnson or Dr. J. Except instead of throwing a sweet behind-the-back pass like Magic, Shaq wanted to drop a hot 16 like Biggie.

“What people don’t understand about my music is that I wasn’t trying to be a rapper. Quite honestly, rappers don’t make as much money anyway,” Shaq said. “My thing was being in the booth, spitting my verse, and then Jay Z or Biggie looking over saying, ‘Oh shit, you wrote that?’”

So which album does Shaquille cite as his crowning musical achievement? Surprisingly It’s not the one that went platinum or certified Gold. It was 1996’s Can’t Stop the Reign. The album was the first Shaq recorded with Interscope Records after joining the L.A.Lakers. Its featured Biggie, Jay Z, Rakim, and Mobb Deep, and production from DJ Quik.

“That had a lot of legends on it, so I’d put that at number one,” he said, adding his debut and Shaq Fu: The Da Return as close runner-ups. Shaq’s business advisors were strongly against him making music throughout his career. Still, no regrets. “I was under a lot of pressure not to do them,” Shaq said. “But, I did them anyway.”

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