Volume 90, Issue 75

Thursday, February 06, 1997



Hip hop hoop dreams

Shaquille O'Neal
The Best of Shaquille O'NealBMG

On the courts he's a menace. Seven feet and three hundred pounds of force. Armed with Medusa's glare and Zeus' might, even if he wasn't taller than the basket he'd still be impressive, right?

Wrong. He can't pass, he can't dribble and he couldn't hit one in nine free throws to save a cat's life. And guess what – he's no musician either.

Apparently those same zany creeps who brought us the tedium of Shaq Diesel and the frightening weaknesses on Shaq Fu - Da Return, felt Shaquille O'Neal deserved a 'best of' collection for all his producer's hard work.

Admittedly, I would have been impressed with producer Erick Sermon for making something out of nothing. The problem is that he had dozens of hip-hop icons literally littered across this disc and still neither he nor they could save it. The likes of Phife (A Tribe Called Quest), Method Man and Fu-Schnickens should have been able to put together something less than painful. The problem was all in the frontman.

This album is more a journal entry from an immature egoist than a legitimate piece of art. Shaq, who has grown into stardom like a fascist dictator, still has a lot to work out with his therapist. On "Where Ya At" he hollers and whines "I love you mommy," then tries clearing up his paternal problems by dedicating his imperfect pitch to two versions of "Biological Didn't Bother." His songs are tinny, his lyrics empty. I suppose self-motivation guru Anthony Robbins would be proud of Shaq's self-confidence on "I'm Outstanding." That would make one of us.

The compilation's ninth track is entitled "Boom!" and that is precisely the sound the disc made as it smacked against the hard plastic floor of my garbage can. Not even worth trying to resell.

"Do you want me to shoot it?/ Do you want me to pass it?/ Do you want me to slam?" belches Shaq at the start of the originally titled "Shoot Pass Slam." My response – whatever you want Shaq. Just go away.

–Mike Gallay

Space Jam
Various Artists
Warner Sunset/Atlantic

With an all-star line up of artists, the Space Jam motion picture soundtrack could be nothing less than a huge success. The songs portray a mainly R & B flavor, with offerings from Seal, Monica, D'Angelo and All-4-One. But there is also a strong hip hop presence which shines through in the performances of Coolio, Salt 'N' Pepa, Method Man and even Bugs Bunny with his unique, yet entertaining "Buggin."

The whole spirit of the album is light-hearted and promising – keeping in tune with the child-oriented movie. This seems to be a big leap for stars such as Coolio, whose message in "The Winner" is strikingly different than that of his previous hit "Gangster's Paradise" – a visible growth from the superficiality often seen in standard rap scenarios.

There are even some unlikely partnerships on this album. Roots-rockers the Spin Doctors team up with Biz Markie to create "That's The Way." Barry White and Chris Rock get together on "Basketball Jones." These artists, although different in style, simply blend there individualities to form a more harmonious sound – a theme which transcends each track.

Collaboration here has also resulted in the hit single, "Hit 'Em High," which features a slew of artists including Busta Rhymes and L.L. Cool J.

Space Jam is one of those rare albums – where hip hop has no swearing and R & B has no sexual content – which manages to be entertaining. The diversity of the artists, coupled with the clearly positive message makes for great music entertainment, whether one is a fan of the music or not.

–Yaseen Nimjee

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997