Shaquille O’Neal Returns to Rap With New Song in Celebration of NBA Playoffs (Exclusive)

Shaquille O’Neal is returning to rap.

The NBA legend who released four hip-hop albums in the ‘90s will drop a new single called “King Talk” on May 2 in celebration of the NBA Playoffs. It is a collaboration with Ghanian-American rapper Blackway.

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O’Neal first teased the song on Feb. 7 on his Twitter, Instagram and TikTok in an animation video that celebrated LeBron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The 51-year-old entertainer had success in the ‘90s with music, including the platinum-selling album Shaq Diesel, released in 1993. It featured the gold-selling singles “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)” and “(I Know I Got) Skillz” — which both cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — as well as collaborations with late A Tribe Called Quest rapper Phife Dawg, Def Jef and Fu-Schnickens. Some of the tracks were produced by EPMD’s Erick Sermon and Tribe’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

King Talk Cover Art

The cover art for “King Talk”

O’Neal’s follow-up, 1994’s Shaq Fu: Da Return, went gold and featured songs with Method Man, RZA, Redman and Keith Murray. His third album, 1996’s You Can’t Stop the Reign, included collaborations with the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Rakim, DJ Quik, Mobb Deep and Peter Gunz. And his 1998 album, Respect, featured a collaboration with Kobe Bryant, who released his own rap song featuring Tyra Banks in the early 2000s and also rapped on a remix of Destiny’s Child’s Grammy-winning hit “Say My Name.”

In recent years O’Neal has moonlighted as DJ Diesel, performing electronic dance music at festivals and his own event, the pre-Super Bowl extravaganza Shaq’s Fun House. O’Neal has also released electronic dance singles, including collaborations with popular DJ producers like Steve Aoki, Wuki, NITTI, NGHTMRE, Riot Ten, 4B and Eliminate.

He recently compared the rush of performing live onstage to playing on the basketball court in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s like being in a basketball game and having people come and cheer you on and support you,” he said in February ahead of his performance at Shaq’s Fun House. “I just want everybody to have a good time.”

“King Talk”’ was produced by Koko and will be released on streaming platforms via Hive Music/Position Music. Blackway is best known for appearing on the soundtrack for the Oscar-winning animation film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with the song “What’s Up Danger,” a collaboration with duo Black Caviar. His song “Heavyweight” was used by the NFL for its Songs of the Season campaign, which highlighted music from emerging acts and incorporated their music into broadcasts throughout the football season.

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