In the early 90s Shaquille O’Neal blew up like few athletes before or after. First, he was a dynamically athletic seven-footer who dominated the low post at LSU and then with the Orlando Magic. But it was his dynamic personality that allowed him to easily cross into pop culture, where he would make his mark in music, film, and (most profitably) in commercials. After his Rookie-of-the-Year NBA season in ’92-’93 Shaq rounded up a mix of music industry professionals to create Shaq Diesel, the most successful musical release by an American professional athlete. The Undefeated looks back at the phenomenon.
‘Shaq Diesel’ An oral history of professional sports’ only platinum album
Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs had a meteoric rise in the music industry due to a combination of charisma, determination, and an ear for the groove. He founded Bad Boy Entertainment in 1993 at age 24 and the first 21 records they released went gold or platinum. The production company took over pop music. Unfortunately, violence was part of the recipe, and New York’s Bad Boy was at the center of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry that cost Biggie and Tupac their lives. GQ looks back at the brilliance and the drama.
“Ain’t Nothing Shine Brighter Than That Bad Boy” The Inside Story of Hip-Hop’s Most Notorious Label
To Pimp a Butterfly came on the heels of Lamar’s life-changing trip to South Africa and the recording took place during the civil unrest following the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. The result is a strikingly socially aware record that showed exponential growth in every way from his successful debut. The sophomore record was nominated for Best Album at the 2016 Grammys and established Lamar as a top-tier artist.
The Oral History Of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly
Rikers is a notorious New York City jail and in 1988 they had a periodic music series. They booked NYC’s own Public Enemy without knowing much about them or rap. It could have been a powder keg but ended up being more of a dialogue about injustice and hope.
Public Enemy at Rikers: An Oral History
Gucci Mane, the cat with nine lives, has lived it up. One of the mixtape masters of the 2000s, he’s known violence, jail, failure, and redemption. Clubs blast his beats, his shows are packed to the rafters, and his inimitable delivery lives on. This is the story of the man, the myth, the legend.
Hard to Kill
The Chronic stands as the most influential rap album of all time and established Death Row Records as the definitive gangsta rap label, soon to nurture the brilliant careers of Snoop, Tupac, and Eminem. L.A. Weekly provides choice excerpts from the 2013 book Welcome to Death Row: An Oral History of Death Row Records.
The Making of The Chronic
8 Mile was a bit of a surprise hit in 2002 and maybe more so because the filmmakers focused on the grimy underbelly of much-maligned Detroit. What showed through was talent, intense ambitious talent–all taken from the thriving local rap scene.
Losing Yourself All Over Again