There was a time when Shaquille O’Neal‘s name was everywhere. Shaq was one of the greatest basketball legends of all time, rocking the big screen, scoring points, and being a mentor to children through the ’90’s. Apparently life has come full circle and Shaq is back in the headlines again. From being an active philanthropist to a DJ and more, the basketball star is as beloved as ever. Now, Shaq – as his stage name DJ Diesel – has released a collaborative hit song with fellow DJ Steve Aoki – and it’s amazing.
Welcome to the Playhouse, We’ve got Steve and Shaq
Two-time Grammy nominated superstar Aoki has teamed up with a superstar of another kind – and they’ve created the collaborative hit song, “Welcome to the Playhouse.” It’s a heavy-hitting, growling dance beat that will fill you with energy and have you ready to hit the dance floor.
Released through Aoki’s Dim Mak label, the collab is a feel-it-in-your chest fast-hitting song that features Shaq rapping over the electronic twists and turns. If you’ve ever wondered, “can Shaq rap?” Unequivocally, the answer is yes and he’s been doing so for a long time – since the early ’90’s. It’s a collaboration that’s been years in the making. In 2014, O’Neal saw Aoki perform live at TomorrowWorld, and it was the basketball star’s first live DJ set experience. The very next year, Shaq unveiled his persona DJ Diesel and took the stage at TomorrowWorld himself, launching a new facet of his already impressive music career.
It was an exciting team-up for the pair, and Aoki shares in a statement, “SHAQ and I have been wanting to collaborate on a track together for a while now, but it wasn’t until he came over to Aoki’s Playhouse one day that we finally found the inspiration for our collab. We hopped into the studio and the track just came together. That same kind of fun energy is carried through to the artwork and video as well, and I’m so excited to be kicking off the new year with this release.”
Of course, O’Neal was just as thrilled to work with his EDM inspiration, adding, “Working with Steve on ‘Welcome to the Playhouse’ was a blast. We went back and forth for hours together in his studio and eventually ended up with one of my favorite DIESEL releases to date. WELCOME TO THE PLAYHOUSE!”
The veteran music artist half of the collaboration is Steve Aoki – an American DJ, producer, music programmer and music executive with an ear for what inspires. In 2012 – just two years before he would inspire Shaq to pick up the turntables – Aoki was named the highest grossing electronic music artist in North America by Pollstar, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Aoki was born in Miami, Florida, November 30, 1977. The East Coaster turned West Coaster though and he was raised in Newport, California. Aoki attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned two B.A. degrees – one in feminist studies and the other in sociology. By college, Aoki was producing DIY records and running underground concerts out of his room. His apartment became a venue cheekily known as The Pickle Patch, and it was clear from the beginning that the future superstar DJ was going to be something special.
By his 20’s, Aoki had formed his own label – Dim Mak – named in honor of his childhood hero, Bruce Lee. Over his 26-years-and-counting career, Aoki has been nominated for two Grammys and consistently tops Billboard charts with his soulful and electric beats. Aoki has 7 studio albums and over 4 billion streams to his name. The energetic and insightful artist has collaborated over the years with will.i.am, Afrojack, LMFAO, Linkin Park, Iggy Azalea, Lil Jon, blink-182, Laidback Luke, BTS, Monsta X, Louis Tomlinson, Backstreet Boys, Rise Against, Vini Vici, Lauren Jauregui, Fall Out Boy and more. Attending an Aoki performance means you’re getting a whole-mind experience, as the playful DJ often crowd surfs and has been known to throw cake and spray champagne.
But it’s not only fun and games with Aoki – he also runs a charitable organization focused on international humanitarian efforts called Aoki Foundation. And at the end of 2021, he was seen manning the deck at the newly open-to-the-public Allegiant stadium with Bruce Buffer behind the microphone. In addition to being a true musical artist, Aoki is a fashion designer, author and entrepreneur. A Netflix documentary I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2016) and his memoir BLUE: The Color of Noise (2019) give fans a better glimpse into the mind of the man behind the career.
Shaq – DJ Diesel
Of course, it was that fate-sealing 2014 encounter with Aoki that would set Shaq on a DJ course that brought him to “Welcome to the Playhouse.” Arguably one of the greatest basketball players in history, Shaq has also become one of the greatest entertainers. His 7’1″, 325lb frame would be intimidating if he weren’t such a kind and welcoming person with a ready and charming smile.
O’Neal was born March 6, 1972 in Newart, New Jersey. By the time he graduated high school, Shaq was already a basketball star, and his light would only shine brighter. Biography writes, “In his rookie season with the Orlando Magic, O’Neal, also known as ‘Shaq,’ finished in the Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocks and shooting percentage. A notoriously bad free-throw shooter, O’Neal focused on trying to get more of his points on the power slam, and hearty NBA centers quickly learned to try to foul O’Neal rather than give him an easy shot. O’Neal became the first player in NBA history to be named Player of the Week in his first week in the league.”
In 1996 – the same year Aoki was launching his career – O’Neal signed the biggest deal in the NBA, 7 years for $120M with the LA Lakers. O’Neal led his team to NBA championships and Olympic gold before retiring in 2011, but he hasn’t slowed down off the court.
Shaq’s music career officially started back in 1993, but he wouldn’t discover EDM until that fateful run-in with Aoki’s energy. Over the years, O’Neal has been an actor, entrepreneur, restaurant owner, Esports manager – and even has been named an honorary US Deputy Marshall. Shaq went on to serve as a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia and an auxiliary deputy in Florida.
The father of 4 is also a philanthropist, with the Shaq Foundation raising money each year to help instill hope and bring about change in communities, collectively shaping a brighter future for our children. Back in October, the annual Shaq Foundation concert saw O’Neal taking the stage with Snoop Dogg to sing, “Nuthin’ but a G Thang.”
Both O’Neal and Aoki are true titans in their industries, and genuinely good people to boot. Their collaboration has created a song that will get people dancing and have them feeling good – every music artist’s dream. We only hope they bring us more in the future.