From Shaq Diesel To Fu Schnickens- The Rap Saga
by Zachary Kauz
Shaquille O'Neal or the "Shaq Attack" had four albums. Let me just let you absorb that for a second. OK, are you done? This also wasn't a last ditch attempt to stay relevant. His first record came out only slightly more than a year after he was drafted into his first team the Orlando Magic. Published by Jive Records, this is Shaq Diesel from 1993.
First, a bit of basketball history. The Orlando Magic's were having a horrible year in 1991. They suffered a 17 game losing streak and it seemed that they would become the next Pittsburgh Pirates. All of that changed when they won first choice in the NBA Draft Lottery. With the combination of his height and the fact that he was taught by the legendary Magic Johnson, Shaq was in like flynn as they say, but a great basketball career wasn't enough for Shaq and it was onto music.
A lot of people may be curious how and/or why Shaq was picked up by Jive Records but they were known for Rap and R&B acts and really, how many of you guys would say no to this sports superstar if he asked for a record deal? Not to mention that he could probably lift us (or any record exec) with one hand and step on us as if we were ants.
Let's get started with his first song, "I Know I Got Skillz" (god, that title doesn't make me think I can take this song seriously). One thing first though- this track actually made into the top 50 on the Billboard charts. This is probably one of the worst songs on the record and yet it somehow made it to the top of the charts and it’s also one of the few songs with a video. "I Know I Got Skillz" starts with two lines that shows that this will be exactly what you thought a Shaq record would be and then some- "You wanna fight? Come fight me I'll hit ya with the 'wa psh psh psh' see see" and "I get dirty after dark I'll treat like Spielberg you get your ass kicked in the park." I'll let that first line speak for itself but there is so much wrong with that second line that I just have to explain it. That second line doesn't work in two ways- the pun on the Spielberg movie Jurassic Park sounds incredibly bad and in the extremely unlikely chance that it's not a pun on that title, what park it is? It doesn't work at all.
He then states one other line that is just strange- “I'll punch you in the stomach, I don't give a heck, (hey yo, why you booger hook her like that?) ‘cause she breathed on my neck." First of all, nobody is tall enough to breathe on your neck, Shaq. Second, it’s obvious that he’s self-censoring, which is strange because just in case he forgot, the line is about punching someone a woman in the stomach for breathing on you. I guess psychopaths have to make sure they appeal to the children too.
Luckily, another rapper steps in by the name of Def Jef and fixes things with some pretty good lines. It's a shame that this is probably his best and/or only known piece of work since he seems promising. Def Jef was a thoughtful rapper whose lyrics were full of political messages and whose beats were original. He never had any huge hits but deserves your respect or at least a listen to (try 1989’s Just a Poet With Soul).
Anyway, back to Shaq. The next track is actually not that bad and goes by the name “I'm Outstanding,” the second track in-a-row whose title is about how awesome he is, just in case you didn’t realize it. The music is fine and there is a genuine lack of extremely silly lines by Shaq although this track does unfortunately highlight the fact that Shaq isn't a very good rapper. The lines here aren't too bad but Shaq always either sounds tired and/or angry at listeners as if they're denying he has "SKILLZ," which by the end of this record you may be guilty of. I guess the best modern comparison is that he sounds as tired as Drake but doesn't really have the chops to match even Drake as a rapper with a decent but definitely not amazing flow. The song is still alright though and if the rest of the record was this good, it would be a solid record by the standards of it being a Shaq record but sadly with the exception of the last song with the Fu Schnickens, none of the other songs are really that great.
The next track is “Where Ya At?” featuring A Tribe Called Quest sans Q-Tip. The track also seems to use quite possibly the longest game of Marco Polo recorded on tape for its chorus. It's really annoying. Anyway, there are a couple weird lyrics on this track and believe it or not, it's Phife who has the strangest part on the song. That being said, Phife's part is enjoyably goofy and features such great lines as "People say yo Phife, why are you so cocky, I gotta be good at something 'cause I can't play hockey.” By far the strangest line though is another one by Phife. You may be asking what the line is but that's the problem. I (and the multiple lyrics sites) have no idea what the line is. All I know is that it's preceded by" Carrying chips on my shoulder so call me Sarafina guarantee" and is followed by the words "Pissin and Fartin." Anyway, it's a pretty good verse and Shaq is hilarious as usual (though not in the way he’d like to be).
The next song is "I Hate To Brag" or pardon me, "I Hate 2 Brag" which if you've read the names of the first two tracks, you can tell that Shaq is a bit of a hypocrite. Luckily, the chorus is, "I hate to brag, but damn I'm good," ensuring that Shaq won't be going the conscious route. The track is pretty normal Shaq although one line in particular makes it sound like his lines were probably written by a 2nd grader- "I can flow like pee coming out you-know what or some dookie diarrhea comin' out ya butt." That's right, he should called his flow ‘crap.’ Anyway the song is as hysterical as expected.
After this is "Let Me In, Let Me In" about what seems to be a stalker or fan who is very fond of Shaq. Shaq opens the track with a particularly strange and abruptly mean line-"I'm spittin’ in a cup drink it. Didn't you say you do anything for me." Jeez, I know extreme fans can be annoying but... It also sounds like he forgot his line in part. He says, "somethin'" multiple times culminating in the line, "How can I ease the pain like Lisa Somethin'," to which I respond, IT'S LISA FISCHER! If you're gonna use a metaphor (and an obvious one at that) can you at least get it correct? Or try at all...? Anyway, he does some more clichéd and obvious punch lines such as, "Pass me by like The Pharcyde," but at least he didn't say The Somethin', so it's progress. Sadly, there he heads right back downhill when he says, "I'm like Morris Day, girl/I got no time" which isn’t exactly a compelling metaphor about the Prince-associated group. He then (in the last overtly terrible line) randomly says, "Have you seen my commercial," completely negating the fact that in one of his songs he sincerely says that he won't sell out in his music. I guess that's what his ads are for.
The next track is "Shoot, Pass, Slam," which is convenient just in case you didn't know Shaq played basketball. Thankfully, besides a pretty dumb hook and Shaq saying that "We don't need no hook" right after the hook, it’s actually an okay song. Keep in mind, there is no way this track could actually be good considering that it's a solo track and Shaq still isn't very good at rapping, but it actually has one intentionally funny line where compares how hyped he gets to "a church singing gospel." It's pretty funny stuff and the rest of track is just kind of uninspired but not uninspired enough for me to skip it. There is by no means a need to check it out but on any other album, it would be decent filler despite the aforementioned dumb hook where Shaq asks if you want him to just "Shoot it, Pass it, Slam it," while the trademark "OH'S" and "HEY'S" are yelled in the background. It could've been much worse at least.
Next up is "Boom!" and it’s the first of two tracks with the Fu Schnickens on it, a fun little rap group that didn't really go anywhere at first but eventually got a well deserved cult following. All three members are great but the best is Chip who is closest thing to Busta Rhymes as an eight-year old on Mountain Dew. Sadly, even though the Fu Schnickens do try their hardest on this song, the song is undone by some of Shaq's strange and at times ridiculous lyrics. There are many on there but the most memorable is, "I'll eat you like a sandwich. What Kind? SUBMARINE!" First off, I don't think that detail was at all necessary. Second, I'm not sure if Shaq fully answered his question. How differently do you eat a sub versus any other type of sandwich? The other strange lyric involves Chip doing his thing, rapping really fast so you can barely understand what he's saying and then the other members, calmly saying "Like I got down syndrome." I don't know what they were talking about and its relation to his lines but maybe you can figure that out. It also ends with a very strange repeating of gibberish that carries into the next song confusing anyone who skipped this track. The song isn't the best showcase of the Fu Schnickens talent but luckily the other Fu Schnickens song on here is much better and is dare I say a song I'd listen to on a regular basis even with Shaq on here.
This is followed by "Are You A Roughneck?" a solo song with Shaq. A fun fact is that this may be the second time that Shaq calls his flow ‘crap’ as he says to, "Get out ya' poopa scoopa, 'cause I'm supa dupa." The question is ‘supa dupa’ what? I hope it's not what I think it may be. He also pretends to forget his second verse. It's not even like last time where he just replaces words with ‘somethin'’- he states that he has forgot his verse which seems less like a lyric and more like a statement of contempt. He also says that he was always known as "Shaq Fu" since kindergarten which probably isn't the best time to decide you're rap nickname if you ask me. Anyway, the song is typical Shaq hilarity over a decent but dated beat. I'd say it's a skip unless you want a good chuckle.
The second to last track album and the last really bad track is "Giggin' On Em'"- it's about as bad as it sounds, even with a cameo from Phife. Two lines of choice are,"Hi, my name is Shaq and I want to go pop, NOT! I gots to have the hip in my hop," which sounds especially ridiculous considering that this is about as close to pop-rap as you got in this era. The other line is the third time where Shaq says that his music is bad. For this line, he states that he wants to learn "How to make damage to the ear canal." This might sound like a compliment, meaning that he thinks that his rap is so good that he doesn't know how to make bad music, but keep in mind that this is only the first of his four albums, meaning that if he learned he created three more albums that he acknowledged as damage to the ear canal. There’s also one more line that’s very important for you fans of unintentional humor- "If you don't believe well then you best believe it and if you're from Belize, well then you best Belize it." Besides the fact that to Belize isn't a verb as far as I know (and definitely shouldn’t be), that punch line just seemed forced and could've been entirely left out. He also rhymed it with it and stole Will Smith's "Ha Ha" by using it throughout the song. He also states that he hates it "when people yell to get their point across," which is especially hilarious and ironic if you've listened to the many times he screams on this record (once in the last song in fact). Phife then dons a fake Jamaican accent for the chorus and then does a verse that is okay but doesn't save the song.
The final track on the album (“What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)”) is the second song that features the Fu Schnickens and is the definitely the best song on the record, especially because Shaq only has one verse at the end while the Fu Schnickens get one per person, adding up to three verses for themselves, and hence, most of the song. The song is a great close and arguably the only actually good part of the album.
That being said, the record is only a penny on Amazon so if you want some unintentionally funny rap, it may be worth buying. It also went nearly platinum and Shaq did end up working with Michael Jackson, so I guess it did work out in the end for Shaq.
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