Max Bell always preferred Allen Iverson.
Today marks the re-release of Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie-season Reeboks shoes, The Shaq Attaq. If I had some disposable income—$160, plus tax—I’d be outside of Footlocker with my lawn chair and G-Pen like all of the other sneaker heads. Instead, I’ve settled for DJ Goulet’s (that one) commemorative Shaq Attaq mix, which showcases some of Shaq’s best bars from his rap career. It’s better than it sounds.
After listening to all 21 minutes of the mix—complete with drops of Nas saying “like Shaquille, as well as a “I am Kazaam” drop or two—I’ve come to the conclusion that Shaq is, without the question, the best athlete/rapper to ever pick up a mic (I am not alone). He’s rarely, if ever, off beat, and even though he probably had a ghostwriter or seven, his seemingly inborn charisma never wavers while he delivers markedly solid, stock ’90s rhymes—his first two albums also went platinum and gold respectively, in case you’re into that “numbers don’t lie” thing.
There are some gems on the mix you might not have heard, particularly the aptly titled “Shaq, Crack and Pun” with Big Pun and Fat Joe—they could’ve been a big man supergroup—and “What’s Up Doc?, which features the hippitty diipity high energy of Fu-Schnickens, the only poor man’s Das Efx. Fittingly, the mix ends with what has to be Shaq’s best track: “Can’t Stop the Reign,” which I’m convinced Biggie wrote in its entirety.
While I enjoyed Goulet’s mix, and know that these things are subjective and rarely comprehensive, I still had the feeling that there were some serious omissions. And though this mix is, at its core, about Shaq’s rhyming, “Superman with a dookie rope” had a surplus of heavyweight features (Phife Dawg, Method Man, Redman) and producers (Eric Sermon, RZA, Warren G) on his albums/soundtracks. He also had some hilarious and seemingly big-budget videos to accompany them.
There is the undeniably funky “Strait Playin'”, which dropped just after Shaq Attaq brought his talents to LA and features production from hip-hop’s Roger Troutman/America’s most complete artist, DJ Quik—he holds a python in the video, as all Compton G’s do—as well as “Men of Steel,” off of the Steel soundtrack, which features Ice Cube, B-Real, Peter Gunz, AND KRS-One all close to top form. It’s just over four minutes, and you need to hear/watch every minute, especially since it was probably shot at the same place Cam’ron shot the cover for Confessions of Fire.
In addition to those mentioned above, and the cut with the late great Nate Dogg and the ever underrated WC (watch for his best dancing ever), there’s also my favorite: “No Hook,” produced by RZA and featuring both he and Method Man. Surprisingly, this isn’t a throw away RZA beat, or anything in the vein of Bobby Digital. It’s a dirty water basement Wu-banga, with cavernous drums and blunted bass. And though RZA isn’t exactly dropping knowledge, Shaq and Meth do a decent job of re-imagining themselves as Candyman.
In sum, Shaq Diesel and Wu-Tang will always be for the children.
Watch (A Brief Video History):