Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1

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It is unlikely that Shaq will ever dominate the charts as he does the backboard. His fifth album is as close to relevant to the mainstream pop world as any Shaq album may get. Shaquille O'Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1 continues the center's pattern of regularly releasing new music and also in progressing as a rapper in small steps, not leaps and bounds. The music and rhymes sound more contemporary and less cliché. Shaquille O'Neal's raps are more street, melodic, and adult. Shaq actually no longer seems confused about his target audience; gone is the Kazaam zaniness and in its place is a more mature voice. ("Do It Faster," a duet with Twista and Trina, is a randy ode to love and sexual satisfaction.) The most common theme of Shaquille O'Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1 is defensive boasting. Shaq hardly claims to be a victim, but these collected songs state that he is number one, has earned all his successes, and can bed any woman he wants. O'Neal and his superfriends lay out enough chronic rhymes to make this sexy, funny, and bold album slam with the dominant authority of a Shaq dunk. A video for "Connected" features W.C. and Nate Dogg in a full-out bling-bling party mode (similar to the real-life celebrations following the Lakers' second championship). A single for "In the Sun," with Common and Black Thought, received solid airplay on urban radio. If there is an essential Shaq track, it is "I Don't Care" (with Next's RL), the first song in which he seems to have a uncontainable desire to say something. The track is an incendiary attack on those who criticize his free-throwing problems (including a Chick Hern sample). Such is a Shaq album, personal but not political. It is hard to criticize the big fella for pursuing his musical dreams, and while he will likely never release an essential rap album, Shaq will always be able to mobilize the best talent available and crank out a well-produced, fun album. Shaquille O'Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1 includes guest vocals from Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Mos Def, George Clinton, Angie Stone, Joi (Lucy Pearl), and others. The CD's producers have worked with Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Jay-Z, Lauren Hill, and Santana. Music may be Shaq's hobby, but he doesn't mess around. Shaquille O'Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1 likely won't appeal to any new fans. But those who have been along for the ride will be rewarded with his new CD. Maybe the best praise for Shaq is that, on the court and on wax, he is no Allen Iverson. A decidedly adult effort.

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