Shaquille O’Neal reveals Jive Records offered him $10 million for three rap albums in the 1990s

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During Shaquille O’Neal’s ascent to professional basketball legend status, he was also a rapper with a multimillion-dollar record deal.

In the 1990s, the four-time NBA championship ring holder lived out one of his wildest dreams by moonlighting on the microphone and releasing for albums — most notably the platinum-selling 1993 debut “Shaq Diesel.”

O’Neal has revealed that his hip-hop foray came as a result from his first appearance on Arsenio Hall’s late night talk show and led to a lucrative offer to sign a deal with the same music company that featured R. Kelly, A Tribe Called Qwest, Aaliyah and Boogie Down Productions.

“I was coming to the NBA, Arsenio Hall kept calling, ‘Hey, man, I want you to come on.’ But I didn’t want to just go buy a $10,000 suit and sit on the couch and brag and, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’ I wanted to do something different,” the Newark, N.J., native told Genius’ Between the Lines. “So he kept saying, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘I want to rap with my favorite rap group.’ At the time my favorite rap group was Fu-Schnickens. So we contact Fu-Schnickens, and they flew down.”

The Brooklyn-based Fu-Schnickens were composed of Chip Fu (Roderick Roachford), Moc Fu (Joe Jones) and Poc Fu (Lennox Maturine). The rapid rhyming rap trio enjoyed top 10 success with their debut single, the reggae-tinged “Ring The Alarm” in 1992 and its follow-up singles “La Schmoove” and “True Fu-Schnick.”

Chip-Fu was the person O’Neal credits with teaching him how to rap by coaching him on his delivery.

“We went up, we performed it,” he recalled. “Then the next day, my agent says, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you want to take this call, but Jive wants to offer you a record deal.’

After initially telling his representation he had no interest in doing a record deal, O’Neal had a quick change of heart after learning the offer of $10 million for three albums.

“I was like, ‘I’ll take it.’ And so that’s how I started doing my albums,” the former Los Angeles Lakers center confessed. “I never wanted to be a rapper, but I did want the opportunity to rap with all my favorite MCs, and just have fun and do the video with them, that’s what it’s all about for me.”

“Shaq Diesel” featured productions from Erick Sermon of EPMD, Def Jeff, Meech Wells, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and collaborations with the Fu-Schnickens as well as Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest.

The first single from the opus, “(I Know I Got) Skillz,” peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified gold. Years later, the track appeared in the 2008 stoner comedy “Pineapple Express.”

In 1993, O’Neal also appeared on “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock),” the Fu-Schnickens’ first single from their second studio album, “Nervous Breakdown.”

The burgeoning rap sensation’s follow-up set, “Shaq Fu: Da Return,” was released in 1994 and featured production from RZA, Warren G and Erick Sermon as well as collaborations with Method Man, Redman, Keith Murray, and more.

In 1996, the 7-foot-1 gold medal-winning Olympic athlete released his third album, “You Can’t Stop the Reign,” featuring hip hop royalty.

With productions by DJ Quik, Poke and Tone, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Mobb Deep and Easy Mo Bee, the 19-track album featured appearances from Rakim, Jay-Z, and The Notorious B.I.G., Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz.

In 1998 came the fourth and final hip-hop album from O’Neal in the form of the Interscope-released “Respect,” which sold a little over 100,000 copies.

By that time, Jive Records was a hit-making independent music powerhouse with pop music superstars Britney Spears, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys on its roster.

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