Shaq/DJ Diesel at Lolla 2019
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Shaquille O'Neil, A.K.A. DJ Diesel, On Lollapalooza Debut, Loving Bass Music & DJing Since '88
NBA Hall Of Famer Shaquille O'Neil may be best known for his awe-inspiring moves on the basketball court, but now he's perfecting the art of making crowds go crazy from behind the DJ booth as DJ Diesel. With his Summer League 2019 tour, Shaq has brought his favorite bass drops to clubs and festivals around the world, most recently at Lollapalooza 2019.
The Recording Academy caught up with him before he got the kids dancing at his packed—and apparently very lit—Sunday DJ set. We discussed his musical evolution, love of bass music, how he crafts his sets on the fly, scratching his father's Commodores record after getting his first turntables in the '80s and more.
"I was taught a long time ago that when you find something difficult, break it down to where it becomes easy. For an artist, being a DJ, it's hard work. Everything has to be done right, so I always break it down. The only common factor that I'm familiar with is large crowds. So, then I say to myself, 'What did I do to make the large crowds go crazy in L.A.?' You make a great play," Shaq said.
He continued, emphasizing that he's not a celebrity DJ, as he's been doing it since before he was famous. At the end of the day, he just loves making people jump and have fun.
"I've been doing this since 1988, so a lot of people, especially on social media, they think I'm doing it for the fad. One, I'm not getting paid anything. I enjoy watching people jump up and down. I take pride in looking at people and saying, 'Okay. You paid money to watch me perform? I'm going to give you your money's worth.' So, it's about the sport. I could have chosen any style music, I like bass music. I'm seven foot, 350, I consider myself hard, when I played on the basketball court I was hard. I like the hard drops."