As sure as it’s hot as a bitch outside, DLT90s is still here, and this is another installment of Wack-Ass Wednesday. With the retirement of Shaquille O’Neal last week, and with the NBA Playoffs in effect, no time like this week to cover what became a disturbing trend throughout the last half of the ’90s. Yeah, you guessed it: the trend in which every basketball player who could freestyle a few bars in the locker room decided it was a great idea to make music.
It all started with Shaq. One night, he’s on Arsenio talkin’ about his love for his favorite rap group of the time, the Fu-Schnickens. Next thing you know, he’s on stage rappin’ with ’em. Then, he appears on a Fu-Schnickens single called “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)”, which for some odd reason was a hit. Long story short, this chain of events led to his big non-rappin’ ass dropping like five albums.
And this was no situation where some athlete just came out with a bunch of amateurish beats and lame raps. Shaq (and/or the label) knew that his shit was gonna need a LOTTA help… and that he got. As a true hip-hop fan at heart, Shaq worked with a laundry list of respected MCs and producers on his albums. This included Biggie, Erick Sermon, Redman, Method Man, RZA, Rakim, DJ Quik, Jay-Z, Trackmasters, Mobb Deep, Warren G, Easy Mo Bee, and more. Not the dumbest move in the world, although it was usually the only reason to listen to a Shaq record (unless, of course, you just wanted to have a good laugh).
Anyway, after the success of Shaq-Fu the rapper, shit went crazy for the remainder of the decade. I guess everyone figured “shit, if he could do it, why not me?” The most flagrant violation was in ’94- a compilation album called B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret. It was like the Superbowl Shuffle, but with basketball players. Better yet, it was like my favorite wack-ass movie Rappin’, when EVERY-body in the fukkin’ movie rapped in the final scene. It was heavily promoted, and even had some OK production, but nobody (except for those who really wanted to know if Gary Payton could spit) went out and bought it. After the Best Kept Secret project flopped, the trend died down for a while, but came back strong by the late-’90s with equally awful music by the likes of Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant, and Allen Iverson. Jeesh.
You know how some people talk about back in the days, and how (insert lame new rap nigga here) woulda never been signed back then, because “you had to have skills to get on”? Yeah, well that’s bullshit, because if (insert lame new rap nigga here) was in the NBA, he coulda at least got to drop a single. But don’t let me force-feed you this line of thinking- listen for yourself. Below, I give you five incredible moments of lyrical exercise by some of the best MCs the NBA had to offer.
Shaquille O’Neal “I Know I Got Skillz” (1993): Oh, word? Yeap, this was the official beginning of Shaq’s illustrious solo career. Along with Def Jef, Shaq attempts to crush the critics by showing his “skillz” on the mic. The key points of this song include: A) he’ll punch a chick in the stomach and he don’t give a heck, and B) knick knack Shaq Attaq, give a dog a bone. Whether or not he had skillz still hasn’t been answered, but the real question now is: with his retirement, does this mean we get another Shaq-Fu album?
Cedric Ceballos “Flow On” (1994): And this was the piece-de-resistance of that Best Kept Secret album, video and all. I guess it should be a plus that Warren G only produced it and didn’t rap on it… but Ced is hopelessly corny all up and through this song. Imagine Warren’s lyrical wizardry (haaaa!) mixed with some Melle Mel-esque vocal inflections and some tiggity-tounge twistin’ shit thrown in. I dare you to get past the part where he says his rhymes are finger-lickin’.
Jason Kidd “What The Kidd Did” (1994): In an unbelievably wooden performance, Jason Kidd connects with Digital Underground‘s Money B. The message in this song is that Jason is paid and nice as all hell on the court. In a completely unenthusiastic tone, he even reminds us midway through that ain’t no party like a J. Kidd party, cause a J. Kidd party don’t stop. As true as that may be, nothing can save this from being possibly the most sleep-inducing party joint ever.
Chris Webber “2 Much Drama” (1998): Aight, he tried to create some kinda emotion here… but Tupac he was not. Here, C. Webb talks about his tough life as a highly-paid athlete- even the misery that is sitting at home lonely although lots of chicks wanna bone him. The pressure is mounting, and he can’t seem to find answers anywhere- not in church, not from his friends, and not even from sitting outside in the rain. Tear.
Kobe Bryant feat. Tyra Banks “K.O.B.E.” (1999): Two things are for sure: Tyra Banks is not a singer, and Kobe Bryant is not a rapper. But why should that stop ’em? KB was actually signed to Columbia Records and being produced by the Trackmasters, even appearing on a Brian McKnight single in ’99… but once this masterpiece here debuted, the unanimously poor reception killed any chance of him dropping an album. In a incredible display of quality control by a major label, Kobe was dropped from Columbia because his music sucked. By the way, what does K.O.B.E. stand for… Kobe On a Bitch Eatin’?
I doubt these dudes really cared, because rap wasn’t their first profession anyway, and they were likely just doin’ it for kicks. Still, damn near ALL these projects were evidence that there was a reason why them NBA niggas got paid to hoop… because music sure as shit wasn’t their calling.