It seems like four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal has always maintained some sort of presence on the Las Vegas nightclub scene. He has hosted pool parties, DJ’d at venues like Rehab and Chateau in recent years and was even an investor in the iconic Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace (you know, the thing before Omnia). His career as DJ Diesel reaches a new high this weekend when he tips off a new residency at Encore Beach Club, spinning at Nightswim Saturday and returning for two more parties next month. Here are a few things you should know to get ready before you break it down with the Big Shaqtus, aka Manny Shaq-iaou, aka the Big Agave, aka Shaq Daddy.
He has released four studio albums, not counting his contributions to the soundtracks for his films Kazaam and Steel. (Kazaam is a musical fantasy comedy directed by one of the stars of TV’s Starsky & Hutch, in which Shaq plays a 5,000-year-old genie; Steel is a superhero movie based on a DC Comics Superman spin-off character, in which Shaq battles a weapons dealer played by Judd Nelson. Shaq recorded songs for these movies.) His 1993 debut album on Jive Records, Shaq Diesel, went platinum and featured production from some serious hip-hop heavyweights including Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest, Erick Sermon of EPMD and Def Jef from the West Coast Rap All-Stars.
Shaq’s best-known rap single wasn’t one of his songs—it was his appearance on the Fu-Schnickens’ “What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock),” a Top 40 hit from 1993. It should be noted that Shaq’s Rookie of the Year campaign with the Orlando Magic also concluded in 1993, so if you doubt his skills as an MC, remember that he was rhyming while he was averaging 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. There’s also the matter of the still-unreleased Shaquille O’Neal Presents His Superfriends, Vol. 1, originally slated for a 2001 release and rumored to include contributions from Dr. Dre, Pink, George Clinton, Luda-cris, Common, Snoop Dogg and more. When will Shaq open his vault?
He’s a part of Vegas boxing history (sort of). In 2009, Shaq battled Oscar de la Hoya for five short rounds at Planet Hollywood as part of his Shaq Vs. reality TV show produced for ABC. De la Hoya won in a unanimous decision. For the show’s second season in 2010, Shaq took on Shane Mosley in another exhibition match, this time at Caesars Palace, again falling to his opponent despite a 16-inch height advantage and a nearly 200-pound weight edge. To add insult to injury, the same episode of Shaq Vs. featured the big guy losing to Penn Jillette in a magic trick competition … even though Shaq had Teller on his side. That’s rough.
He’s a part of Vegas food history (sort of). Shaq’s fast casual eatery Big Chicken opened last year on Paradise Road right across from the Hard Rock Hotel, and as far as fried chicken sandwich joints go, you could do a lot worse. Chicago’s Turano Baking Company supplies all the brioche buns, a double wet-and-dry battering process adds to the tasty-crispy quotient and the floats are made with local Big Dog’s Brewing Company root beer. The go-to sandwich is the Uncle Jerome, a take on the Nashville hot chicken phenomenon named for Shaq’s longtime bodyguard. It might be the fuel-up you need before you hit Nightswim.
NIGHTSWIM WITH DJ DIESEL June 15, 10 p.m., $25-$45. Encore Beach Club, 702-770-7300.