You can’t call yourself a Hip-Hop head if you are unaware of Shaquille O’Neal’s impressive run as a rapper in the ’90s. He did multiple collaborations with the era’s finest and even went platinum with his solo debut, Shaq Diesel. However, one of his collabs showed him how a wordsmith perfectionist gets down. The NBA legend recently spoke to Ebro on his Beats1 show about how he recorded his verse for a Biggie Smalls collab several times for the sake of impressing the rap phenomenon.
Appropriately titled “You Can’t Stop the Reign,” the song stems from Shaq’s eponymous third studio album of the song. According to O’Neal, when he was in the process of recording the album, he reached out to Diddy and Biggie about a possible feature and they both agreed to make it happen. Once the making of the song was in motion, he recorded his verse once and out of dissatisfaction recorded it again. Shaq did not want one of Brooklyn’s greatest rappers to ever say he was a wack emcee.
“I get the track, and I lay it…I don’t like it. I re-lay it and keep doing it because I don’t want to do it in front of him, in case it’s wack… I called him down, and I played it for him. He was rocking with it,” said Shaq.
Apparently, being the perfect wordsmith that he is, Biggie only needed one take to record his verse which left the Lakers player highly impressed. “He went in there, and when I tell you he killed it in one take, I ain’t never seen nothing like that. But — the first take — and I’m the only one with a copy, and it’ll never get released because I never do it to him… he went in. He was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s right, my bad. It’s for the kids, for the kids.’ And then he went in and did that verse.”
Five years later, Biggie’s verse for “Still Can’t Stop the Reign” was reused in Michael Jackson’s “Unbreakable” with whom he has mashed vocals with prior to his untimely death. The “Juicy” emcee dropped a signature set of bars on the King of Pop’s 1996 single “This Time Around” from HIStory which also features an appearance from Shaq on the song “2 Bad.”
Clearly, Shaq did everything in his power to make sure that the Notorious B.I.G. did not label him as a wack emcee. Luckily, the Hip-Hop icon was satisfied enough to do the collaboration, but it does not necessarily mean Biggie thought Shaq was a dope rapper. At this point, his official thought on that matter is publicly unknown because he is not here. However, with history being a factor, reusing the verse to design the musical chemistry between Jackson and Biggie was genius.