“Biggie, Jay Z and Nas are the only rappers who finished our recordings in one take”: When Shaq revealed how he and the legendary East Coast rapper collaborated for a hit record
Damian Lillard might be the best basketball player in rap today, but Shaquille O’Neal is the only one to ever have a song with Biggie Smalls.
Ready to Die by the Notorious B.I.G is considered by many hip hop heads to be a top-5 album. This classic was released in 1994 and has over 4 million sales worldwide. It changed the perception of the New York rap scene forever, putting it squarely at the forefront.
The 3rd track on this album, called ‘Gimme the Loot’, contains the following lyric:null
I’M SLAMMING NI***S LIKE SHAQUILLE, SHIT IS REAL
WHEN IT’S TIME TO EAT A MEAL, I ROB AND STEAL
As you can guess, this verse uses the name of Shaquille O’Neal, who was a second-year player at the time. Shaq had already made his mark in just 2 seasons with the Orlando Magic, and there was more to come from the big man.
Shaq’s uptempo, physical play was lauded by several rappers, who became his fans early on. The Notorious B.I.G was definitely one of them, judging by how Shaq’s been name-dropped in this song.null
How Shaquille O’Neal and Biggie did a rap record together
The Big Diesel was on the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles last year. They raised the question about how Shaq got the chance to do a record with possibly the greatest rapper of all time. Shaq’s reply was quite illuminating, to say the least:
“I’d heard the lyrics to Gimme the Loot, so I was like ‘S***, he knows where it’s at.’ So I called him, I called Puff and I say ‘Big, I’m doing an album.’ He said ‘Yeah, I heard you spit, big fella, we can do it.’”
“So I sent him the beat and never responded. Then Puff called and said ‘Biggie and Lil Ceas, they flyin out today.’ But prior to that, I did my verse over like ten times, cuz I don’t want it to be bad. Like I’m not that good to be in the studio with him, let me just get me out of the way. Let him hear it.”
“So when he gets there, cuz I had the studio in the house, I let him hear it. He was like ‘That’s tight, that’s tight.’ I hand him a pad and a pen and told him to just hit that button when he’s done. He was like ‘I’m ready now.’”
“Bro, one take, killed it. Him, Jay Z and Nas are the only people to ever do it. Everybody else, they do what they do, you know. Three minutes, nailed it.”