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Shaquille O’Neal — AKA DJ Diesel — Discusses His Billboard Chart Hits

The NBA legend made his Billboard chart debut in 1993 — and continues to record and tour.

Shaquille O'Neal as DJ Diesel performs at Shaq's Fun House Big Game Weekend at Talking Stick Resort on Feb. 10, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Shaquille O'Neal as DJ Diesel performs at Shaq's Fun House Big Game Weekend at Talking Stick Resort on Feb. 10, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

An elder statesman of NBA stars with rapping side hustles, Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal landed his first hit, “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock),” on MTV in 1993, and it peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. He has four other Hot 100 songs to his name and four Billboard 200 albums — and now records electronic music and tours as DJ Diesel. The co-host of TNT’s Inside the NBA, Shaq answered email questions about his chart success.

You’ve had many accolades throughout your career. Where does scoring your first hit on the pop charts rank?


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You know, this whole journey, it’s never really been about just me. It’s like being on the court but in the studio, where every player brings something unique to the game… Seeing my records on the charts is just validation that I am doing the right thing and on the right course. It’s an awesome feeling similar to some of the NBA records I have.

You went nearly 25 years between releasing albums, from 1998 to 2023 — why the long wait? What did you miss about making music? What was most exciting when you went back to it?

Fun fact: I did not stop making music after ’98; I just didn’t release it. Music’s always been a personal thing for me, a way to express myself off the court. Then I discovered EDM after crashing [Belgium’s] Tomorrowland festival, and it was like finding a new rhythm to my game. My bass and dubstep productions were like this amazing secret I had, and eventually, it felt like a secret too good not to share. That’s why I jumped back in.

On a personal note, I live in Denver and am curious to know your favorite Nikola Jokic play of all time.

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Did you just ask me to pick my favorite Nikola Jokic play? Jokic is one of those players where any play of his could land in the ESPN’s [Sportscenter] Top 10 on any given day. Just the other day, I saw him nail a crazy half-court three for the win. That was nuts! He’s not just a special player, he’s a special big man, redefining what it means to play the center position and shoot the ball — but can he DJ?

This article was originally published by Billboard U.S.

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Kid Cudi performs onstage during Weekend 2 - Day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 21, 2024 in Indio, Calif.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella

Kid Cudi performs onstage during Weekend 2 - Day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 21, 2024 in Indio, Calif.

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