Hip-Hop That Time Forgot: Shaq’s “(I Know I Got) Skillz”

Shaquille O’Neil shoots off rhymes like free throws in his hilarious debut single from 1993.

Geoffrey Goldenby Geoffrey Golden

Thanks to quickly changing styles and pop culture references in lyrics, many hip-hop songs get dated more quickly than their rock and pop counterparts. The result is that a lot of ridiculous rap tracks with a poor shelf life get lost in the cultural ether. In Hip-Hop That Time Forgot, I’ll try to bring tracks back from the abyss. Of course, I’m referring to Abyss Records, the dying music store chain that sells cassette singles of these songs for 68 cents in their Tape Trough:


Shaquille O’Neal – “(I Know I Got) Skillz”

A dominating, super-hyped basketball superstar, Shaquille O’Neal pretty much owned the world in the early 90s. However, just because you’ve got “skillz” on the court, doesn’t mean you have “skillz” in the recording studio. Case in point, Shaq’s debut single from 1993, “(I Know I Got) Skillz,” from the album “Shaq Diesel.” Here’s the music video. Spread this on your bagel:

The track was co-written and produced by Def Jef, who rightfully must have seen Shaq as a giant walking moneybag. I say “rightfully” because the track made it to 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went gold. Unfortunately, it was his only top 40 single, perhaps because… y’know, it’s ridiculous.

Here are just some of the more questionable lyrics:

“I dribble rhymes like Basketball-ems / people call me E.T. / (what's that Shaq man?)/ Extra-Tallems” – Why did he add the “ems” to Basketball and tall? Those words both rhyme and they’re real words. Adding the “ems” makes everything nonsense. There was no better way to make those lines scan, Def Jef?

“I lean on the Statue of Liberty when I get tired” – I think Shaq is attempting to say that he’s tall, but can’t anybody lean on the Statue of Liberty, regardless of height? I can lean on the Empire State Building, for example, and I’m no Shaquille O’Neal in the height department.

“Knick-knack shaq-attack, give a dog a bone” – Woof!

The way Shaq rhyme-talks, you wonder if he’s thought about what he’s saying, or if he’s just kind of saying things. Then there's his legendary acting skills at work in the video. The director must have told him, “look tough,” and Shaq responded with his interpretation of tough, which is moving your hands threateningly towards the camera without ever changing your facial expression.

I was very surprised, in researching this article, that “(I Know I Got) Skillz” hasn’t completely been forgotten. The song was featured on the Pineapple Express soundtrack. Speaking of which, I hear if you get stoned, and listen to this song while playing Shaq-Fu, it’s a profound, almost religious experience. Ahhh…



Geoffrey Golden is the Editor in Chief of The Devastator, “The Quarterly Comedy Magazine For Humans,” in comic book stores across the country.