For the past few years, the most we've heard about Shaquille O'Neal on the hip-hop scene is via references from rappers like Fat Joe on "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." But evidently the NBA's man of steel, who debuted on the mic in 1993 with the LP Shaq Diesel, has regained a Jones in his big bones for spitting rhymes.
On a recent mixtape by DJ Sickamore called Drop Another Day, #34 raps a freestyle about going after the Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett and the Spurs' Tim Duncan and apparently takes aim at Virginia MC Skillz, formerly known as Mad Skillz.
"I don't care how mad your skills is, you can't serve me," Shaq raps. "You don't like Deez? Take off my throwback jersey." O'Neal goes on to say, "You're the fourth-best from Virginia/ Guess what? I don't f--- with scrubs either/ ... I don't know what you look like/ You be spitting metaphors like you're a geek."
"I just thought the freestyle was hot," said Sickamore, who did not want to reveal where he got the freestyle from. "NBA players usually get fined if they curse, but Shaq's being gully."
"I got home and a couple of my friends had called me and said, 'Yo, there's a mixtape with Shaq dissing you,' " Skillz said Friday (June 11). "It sounded ludicrous off the top. Why would Shaq be dissing me? I listened to it a hundred times to make sure. It's evident he was talking about me. I have no idea why, but that don't really matter. He threw the first blow. That's a heavy blow. That's a big dude."
Unlike Garnett and Duncan, Mad Skillz's name isn't explicitly said by O'Neal, and the Diesel was unable to be reached for confirmation. However, Skillz is sure he was called out by Shaq, and he plans to holla back with his own dis.
"I wouldn't even answer Shaq back if he didn't think he could rap," Skillz huffed. "I think he actually believes he's nice. It's a mismatch. It's gonna be funny."
Though Skillz said his words will be laced with humor, he hopes to remove any smile Shaq may have on his face. He wants to destroy the basketball star's rap career.
"That's what I'm out to do," said Skillz, whose biggest record is probably Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" remix. "People know me as far as rap battles. I don't hold nothing. I'm real serious about my lyrics, and when I come out, I come swinging.
"He's not an MC," continued Skillz, who called Shaq-Fu one of the worst ever on the mic. "I don't think anybody I know respected him or even looked at him as an MC. He's OK. He was OK back in the day, but for him to wait that long before he rapped at all, then rap against me, that's sad, Shaq. You ought to be worried about the [Detroit Pistons'] Wallace boys, not me."
Skillz said he's a heard a theory about why O'Neal might want to throw jabs at him. At the top of the year, he released the underground cut "The Rap Up 2004," on which he made fun of another Laker, Kobe Bryant, by calling his alleged rape of a Colorado woman "the dummy move of the year." Skillz also took a piece of 50 Cent's "Wanksta" for his rap, saying, "Damn, Kobe. In high school you was the man, Kobe."
"I don't know how close him and Kobe are," Skillz said. "What I said about Kobe in 'The Rap Up' ... I didn't make none of that up. 'The Rap Up' is a summary of what happens in the year. [Shaq] might have been trying to take up for Kobe, but even Kobe wouldn't have taken up for Kobe."
Skillz said he's had his response written for some time but hasn't had time to record it. He's been on tour with his friends the Roots. "Touring with the Roots and playing with the band, you can't get no better than that as far as a hip-hop band is concerned," he said, beaming. "Performing with them is the pinnacle of performing."
A free agent since Rawkus folded a few months ago, Skillz has a new track called "Take It Back" on the Roots' Okayplayer Presents: True Note Vol. 1. He shot a video for it last week.