For a long time, Damian Lillard and Shaquille O’Neil have been associated with one another not only by their shared brotherhood in the fraternity of the NBA, but also by their love for (and surprising skill at) making hip-hop music. The two have long been held up as the two best rappers out of all NBA players, but up until now, they’ve always been held up side-by-side rather than head-to-head. But as competitive as both basketball and hip-hop are, it was only a matter of time until the two would be forced to settle the debate: Which of them is the hands-down best rapping NBA player?
Well, thanks to retired rapper Joe Budden and his incendiary podcast, we might be getting an answer. Inviting Lillard onto his show, he straight-up asked which of the two raps better. “I think I rap better than Shaq,” Dame responded. “I’ve heard Shaq’s stuff. I’ve like…I think people was like…I think he was viewed as Shaq. People was like, this Shaq. It wasn’t like, Shaq and Biggie. People weren’t looking like this a real rapper. It was like, ‘That’s Shaq rapping.’ So, of course, it was a big deal.” Well, it didn’t take long for Shaq to hit the lab, emerging on Instagram with a diss track aimed squarely at the younger baller and the caption “I except all challenges [sic].”
Over the instrumental from Dr. Dre’s 2001 single “What’s The Difference?” Shaq goes in, comparing his three MVP awards to Dame’s lack of nominations, telling the Blazers star to “get you some” platinum plaques before comparing the two. That didn’t stop Dame from picking up the pen himself; today, the fourth-quarter barn burner hit his own Instagram to tell fans to hit the link in his bio for his own diss track aimed right back.
Titled “Reign Go Away,” the three-minute track finds Dame Dolla unleashing on O’Neil with a flurry of barbed flows, jabbing that “Kobe won you those rings though.”
But now that the two have opened hostilities, what will happen in the first rap beef between two NBA players who really rap? Sure, Dame had that tiff with Marvin Bagley earlier this year, but no one really took that seriously. This is for the title, the championship — and probably, just for fun. Still, in the spirit of competition, this might be one of the most interesting storylines to watch in both hip-hop and the upcoming NBA season. Stay tuned.