Shaq: Freestyle Or Flagrant Foul? Our Hip-Hop Brain Trust Weighs In

By Danielle Beavers

Shaq, don’t quit your multimillion-dollar day job.

Sunday night, the Phoenix Suns center took over the mic at a New York nightclub. He called what he did a “freestyle.” Others called it a “verbal attack” on archrival Kobe Bryant. In case you missed it, Shaq bashed his ex-teammate — with whom he won three NBA titles — with lines like “Last week Kobe couldn’t do it without me.” For the chorus, he got the whole crowd to chant, “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes.” But the “big man” really made it personal with the line “I’m a horse/ Kobe ratted me out/ That’s why I’m getting divorced,” referring to the L.A. Lakers shooting guard’s 2003 rape case, during which Kobe said he should’ve been like Shaq and paid his women not to say anything. And that’s where the friendship ended and the rivalry began.

“I’m totally cool with Kobe. No issue at all,” Shaq told ESPN.com Monday afternoon. “I was freestyling. That’s all. It was all done in fun. Nothing serious whatsoever. … That is what MCs do. They freestyle when called upon.”

Given that Shaq is using the “freestyle” defense, we decided to call in the experts. We tapped some members of our Hip-Hop Brain Trust — the panel that gave us “The Hottest MCs in the Game,” “The Greatest MCs of All Time” and your weekly dose of “Mixtape Monday” — to find out how Shaq measures up. Is this really “what MCs do”? It turns out his greatest sin might have been dissing Patrick Ewing. …

Shaheem Reid (Hip-Hop Editor): There is no denying it. Shaq’s freestyle jabbing of Kobe Bryant brought a smile to my face as wide as his wingspan. Shaq Fu was keeping the spirit of hip-hop alive by going totally off the top of his head, and the line about the flavor of a certain part of his anatomy was certainly crASS, but can’t you just imagine the T-shirts going on sale any day now? The Big Diesel’s flow was very suspect, but lyrically he did everything he was supposed to — get people talking about his lines, not just that night, but for the whole week. No more albums (or slick lines aimed at Patrick Ewing), but I’d definitely listen to a Shaq-hosted mixtape.

Sean Lee (Supervising Producer): We all know about “the old dude at the club,” and Shaq better be careful he doesn’t start looking like that dude. I can only assume he didn’t know he was being filmed. The flow isn’t even worth commenting on — my man was straight rambling. As far as his content, Kobe does deserve to get dissed (the crowd participation at the end was hilarious), but how you gonna play out Pat Ewing?? And don’t blame it on being drunk, because he started to play out Kareem too and fell back — he isn’t stupid. Much love to Shaq, but take your place among the greats and leave the kid stuff to the kids.

Rahman Dukes (Senior Producer): Shaquille O’Neal is out of his mind. The fact that this man is still rapping is an insult to the entire rap community. Normally, shock value fills a void when talent is lacking, so I’m not surprised at the Shaq-ster. But let’s put the atrocious aside for a second and talk the real. This is a man who’s been traded three times in his professional b-ball career, bouncing around various conferences like he’s scouting for NBA talent. Plus, Shaq is fresh from his worst season, leaving the Miami Heat with the worst record in the league, only to get traded to the Suns, who were bounced outta the playoffs faster than one of his bricks at the foul line. I have an appreciation for Shaq the b-ball player, but when you’re down, you don’t kick dirt on the reigning MVP, Patrick Ewing (I’m a Knicks fan, you Oomph!) or the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Then to top it all off, Shaq Daddy issued a retraction regarding the dis. Come on, homey. You sound like Jay-Z when his momma made him take back his lyrics going at Nas on the scathing dis track “Super Ugly.” WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU! For the record, Shaq’s best rap record featured the late great Notorious B.I.G. (“A lime to a lemon, my D.C. women/ Bringin’ in 10-G minimums to condos with elevators in ‘em/ Vehicles with televisions in ‘em/ Watch they entourage turn yours to just mirages” — “Still Can’t Stop the Reign”). That’s where ONE of those platinum albums came from. Clearly, Shaq’s been hangin’ with drama king DJ Kay Slay too much. Somebody please get Skillz on the phone. I smell a “Rap Up 2008″ in the works. Lastly, while Shaq was making flawed dis records yesterday, Kobe Bryant was named to the U.S. Olympics team, so go figure.

Joseph Patel (Senior Producer): I’m just surprised that, according to the AP report, Shaq has seven albums.

What do you think? Did Shaq cross the line or is he just “steppin’ up when called upon”?