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Shaquille O’Neal Returns To Rapping on Blackway’s ‘King Talk’

'This is the type of record that gets me hyped, like I’m walking out for game seven of the Finals,' says NBA legend
(photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is once again putting his impossibly low-register voice to good use on one of his first rap tracks since the 1990s. “King Talk,” a collaboration with Ghanaian-American rapper Blackway and producer KoKo, is out today (May 2), and was inspired by LeBron James breaking the NBA’s all-time career scoring record earlier this year.

“KoKo and I have been sending beats back and forth for a minute now and after he played me this one, I knew I had to jump on it,” O’Neal says of the song, which he teased on social media in February and is being released by Hive Music/Position Music. “I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment for a collab with Blackway and this was it. This is the type of record that gets me hyped, like I’m walking out for game seven of the Finals. The lyrics and vibe of this track were so perfect for the moment when LeBron James set the NBA scoring record and I knew I had to share it with the world — a king recognizes a king. It was crazy to see so many people connect with the song when they heard the teaser, just like I did when we created it.”


To the surprise of many, O’Neal, 51, proved to be a credible rapper across the release of four albums during the ’90s peaks of his pro basketball career, including his million-selling 1993 debut, Shaq Diesel.

Over the past decade, O’Neal has returned to music in the guise of an EDM DJ under the name Diesel, and is scheduled to appear in August at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. “Music has been a passion of mine for a long time — always will be,” he told SPIN in 2020. “I’ve learned a lot from basketball, and always knew that would be the focus of my career, but now that that chapter has folded, I am not surprised at all that Diesel has become what it is.”

Blackway is best known for his 2018 song “What’s Up Danger” with Black Caviar, which appeared in the hit animated Marvel film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The artist is at work on a new EP, on the heels of a March single, “Lion.”

“’King Talk’ is about being imperious, unbeatable, at the absolute top of your game,” Blackway enthuses. “When KoKo and I were working on it, we wanted to get into the mind of a great athlete — a true GOAT and convey that energy. There’s no one that fits that description like Shaq himself. We sent the track to him and next thing we know, we see a video of him dropping it in a DJ set, in front of tens of thousands of people. It got even crazier when he agreed to hop on the record. For those who don’t know, Shaq’s never had a bad verse and this is no exception. I still can’t believe we have a song with my personal favorite athlete of all time.”