by Alex Poletti
In an exclusive interview with The Second String, Hall of Fame basketball player Shaquille O’Neal opened up about his experience with body dysmorphia and what it was like growing up as a white rapper in a 7’1 black Basketball star’s body.
“Deep down, I always knew I was a white rapper,” the longtime Laker says, holding back tears. “The mediocre flow, the lack of rhythm, that’s been there my whole life. But growing up twice the size of every other person and having insane handles forced my life in a different direction. I’m still proud of what I was able to accomplish, but I just wish I was able to do all that as the authentic me.”
In the early ‘90s, speculation first arose that Shaq was actually a white rapper with the release of his debut album “Shaq Diesel,” which went platinum. However, at the time there were very few prolific white rappers, with the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice serving as the only notable artists of no color. It wasn’t until the big man’s recent beef with Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard that O’Neil was able to speak out.
“I wish I could’ve come out as a white rapper in the ‘90s, when I first released ‘Shaq Diesel,’” the 1992 first overall pick explains, “but at the time, that just wouldn’t have been accepted. There was Ice, of course, and Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D, but it just wasn’t the norm like it is now. Back then, hip-hop wasn’t a gentrified art form and was commonly used as a tool to express social restlessness. It was just easier to hide in my 7’1 basketball-God frame.”
The decision to speak with The Second String wasn’t an easy one for Shaq Fu, but it was a decision that had to be made. O’Neal has full embraced his new life as a white rapper, namely by winning Grammys intended for Kendrick Lamar.
“I couldn’t hide it anymore,” O’Neal says. “With the Dame Lillard drama, it’s become too much. I can’t put out these raps where I’m constantly off the beat and pretend that I’m a real rapper. I need to be honest with myself and with the public. I’d say everybody already knew by now, but that would mean that the majority of people today have listened to my music, and I know that sure as hell isn’t true.”