A couple weeks ago, NBA player Damian Lillard and Shaquille O’Neal engaged in a rap battle, and it’s clear that the winner was Dame Dolla. The whole debacle occurred when Damian Lillard appeared on the Joe Budden Podcast and was compared to former NBA player and rapper, O’Neal.
Lillard, also known as Dame Dolla, recently released his debut album “Big D.O.L.L.A.” and believes that he should be seen as a basketball player and a rapper in two separate lights. He, however, believes that Shaq’s big break in the rap game came from people seeing it as basketball Shaq rapping and not Shaquille O’Neal, the rapper. Lillard also said that he believes he is a better rapper than O’Neal.
O’Neal, to no surprise, took offense to these comments and released an Instagram video challenging Lillard, who then released the first diss track, “Reign Reign Go Away.” The first and the best of the three diss tracks, “Reign Reign Go Away” mixed the talented flow of Lillard with witty and complex insults. Lillard attacked O’Neal’s rapping ability and basketball career with lines like, “Know that you shoot for cheap hoes, shooting need work like free throws.” This jab focused on O’Neal notoriously bad career free throw percentage of 53.7, compared to Lillard’s 88.9. Lillard touched on O’Neal’s rapping ability with the line, “Said yourself that I’m a Tesla, no longer need diesel gas, kinda like the Cavs ain’t really need Diesel’s ass.” The car comparison references O’Neal’s nickname “Diesel.” O’Neal played for the Cleveland Cavaliers towards the back end of his career and contributed very little despite his large salary. In addition to lyrical wit and dynamic flow, “Reign Reign Go Away” had a harrowing beat with a level of production comparable to current rappers.
Lillard’s diss was met with the reply “Freestyle (Damian Lillard Diss)” by O’Neal. The song starts with an audio recording of the interview that started it all, playing over the old-school beat. When O’Neal starts rapping, it is immediately cringe-worthy. It is not the lyrics or cadence that hold the song back — it’s the production. YouTube comments include “Shaq sounds like he recorded this through a McDonald’s drive-thru speaker” and “Shaq has a billion dollars and recorded this in an elevator with his cell phone.” But if you get over the production, O’Neal flow and punchlines pack a bit of heat. In reference to the Dame Dolla nickname, O’Neal says, “I’m tryna get a billion, who gives a fuck about a dolla?” He follows this up with a dig at Lillard’s young age by stating, “When you was a little dirty booty boy up in diapers, my garage was filled with Porsches, Benz’s, bikes, and vipers.” O’Neal focuses on achievement and monetary gain in his diss track, two places where he clearly stands above Lillard.
The final diss track in this weird and confusing rap beef is Lillard’s “I Rest My Case.” While still a quality track, it pales in comparison to his first track lyrically. Not quite as punchy as the first track, Lillard asserts, “The only Dame you beat was 2000 and that was Stoudemire.” This reference is to former NBA point guard Damon Stoudamire, who O’Neal beat in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. Overall, this drawn out rap beef, which no one asked for, was an obvious win for Damian Lillard. Production, lyrics, and flow all were in his favor. When it comes to basketball ability, Lillard, at this point in his career, is nowhere near the dominant force that O’Neal was, but Lillard clearly comes out victorious on the mic.