After one season in the NBA and a Rookie of the Year award, Shaquille O’Neal took his immense fame and gigantic stature into the world of media, with classic films like Kazaam and Steel and the release of his first rap album, 1993’s Shaq Diesel. After mild success with a guest verse on Fu-Schnickens’ “What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock?),” his first single, “(I Know I Got) Skillz” reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100, despite the fact that it’s absolutely ridiculous. Shaq was quite the wordsmith, and had the skills to inform everyone that he not only had skills, but also knew he had skills. Sorry, skillz. With a z.
So let’s dissect this lyrical gem, shall we? Let’s use our skills to analyze Shaq’s.
Yo Jef, why don’t you give me a hoopa beat or something/Something I can go to the park to/Yeah, there you go, all right, I like that, I like that/It sound dope
Please note: the first lines of Shaq’s music career are completely mumbled.
(Bust ‘em in the eye Shaq!)/You wanna fight? come fight me/I’ll hit ya with the “wa-psh-psh-psh”, see, see/I get dirty after dark, I’ll treat you like Spielberg/You’ll get your ass kicked in in a park
Shaq uses the first verse to essentially pick a fight in a playground like a kid in elementary school. Also note how hard he has to force his first rhyme.
You don’t beleive me, the proof is in the pudding/Been a boy in the hood way before Cuba Gooding
Good thing this was 1993. It’s hard to fit “Snow Dogs” or “Daddy Day Care” into a rhyme.
Then I’ll punch you in the stomach, I don’t give a heck/(Hey yo, why you bug a hooker like that?)/Yo, she breathed down my neck!
Wait, did Shaq just brag about punching a prostitute? Right in the middle of the song? For breathing down his neck!? He’s like seven feet tall! She’s gotta be giant… I mean, that still doesn’t forgive the punching thing, but damn.
I smoke-smoke the mic-mic/Like Cheech and Chong do/You don’t like Shaq, frankly I don’t give a damn/I know I got skills man, I know I got skills man
Okay, now he’s just trying to force as many film references as possible.
After this line, we get a guest verse from Def Jef, perhaps the only rapper to advertise the fact that his name was Jeff.
Surprise, look who’s back/Not a prize from a Cracker Jack/Look at that, it’s Def Jef with the Shaq Attack
Thank you for clarifying that you aren’t actually a temporary tattoo or a puzzle that you have to fold to make the face of Abraham Lincoln. I was confused for a second.
Flexin’, I’ll be crackin your back with the boom-boom-bap/Pass that mic over here, you ain’t gon’ want it back
I’m sure there’s a multitude of reasons why I don’t want the mic back after he’s touched it, but I don’t want to think about what the mic would look or feel like afterwards, so I’m gonna move off the topic.
Everybody said I got fat, yep, but so did my wallet
Jef actually agrees with the haters here.
Do yourself a solid, don’t flex, you go sex
YEAHHHHH GO SEX! WOOOOO!
Def Jef with the funk, Def Jef don’t front, you know how the name is spelt
Honestly, Jef, I don’t know that. I’ve never met anyone else who spelled his name like that.
I’m making it vital, my title, fool, break yourself/Attack the track like Shaq on a whack broad/Coming up with the hits, and I’m coming down with the backboard
“Okay what rhymes with ‘backboard?’ Eh, we should probably just continue with the ‘Shaq’s a hooker beater’ thing we have going.”
Big up, Flava Unit, Funky Town pros, upstate, yeah, ya large/So check this out Shaq man, we gon’ let this beat play right here, let all/The brothers and sister know…
Jef breaks ground here by actively supporting dead air in the middle of the song. I almost wish he got his way, because that would be an amazing aspect of the song: 15 seconds of nobody saying anything, with Shaq awkwardly thinking of when to come back in.
Nah, nah, let me continue/I’m a be like Pete Rock and see what’s next on the menu/Mic checka, the rim and rhyme wrecka/Rocks from here to Mecca/Boom shack-a-lak-a-lak-a
And that’s an NBA Jam reference, folks.
But Shaq’s a smooth balla/(Yeah, but what about rhymin’?)/I can hold my own/Knick-knack Shaq-attack, give a dog a bone
Well, that proved exactly the opposite of the point you wanted to make.
Rhymin is like hoopin’, I’m already a legend
Debatable. Most people aren’t considered “legends” after one Top 40 hit.
How you like me now? I drop bombs/When you see me, please tap my hands/I know I got skills man, I know I got skills man
If I ever meet Shaq, I’m taking him up on that offer to tap his hands.
The only other notable thing about this song (other than the fact that it is Shaq’s only solo Top 40 hit) is the fact that it lacks any sort of hook. Every verse is rounded out by a few seconds of beats only, to drop back into Shaq and Def Jef’s rhyming. Unfortunately for the Diesel, no tracks off of his next four solo albums (which gives him three more than the Notorious B.I.G. had during his life) ever reached the Top 40 again.
Article by contributor Joe Bush.
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