How is it that retired basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is throwing one of the wildest, most anticipated and exclusive events in the Miami Music Week lineup? It’s kind of a funny story.
The living legend has always had a love for music and mixing, and after crashing the first TomorrowWorld in 2014, he absolutely fell in love with the dance music scene. He also forged a friendship with the festival’s director of talent and marketing Joe Silberzweig, who eventually put him on TomorrowWorld to prove his prowess to the people.
Now, Shaq, Silberzweig and partner Adam Richman have teamed up to create Shaq’s own brand of over-the-top dance music extravagance, and Shaq’s Fun House promises to be one wild ride. Carnival-themed with costumed performers, games and entertainment across two stages, Shaq called on some of the biggest DJs on the scene to create a lineup chock-full of top talent and secret guests that will come to life Saturday morning from 2 a.m. until the sun rises. Billboard Dance‘s Matt Medved caught up with the larger-than-life personality to talk about what’s in store
We met at Tomorrowworld back in, I think, 2015. I hope you’ve been well.
Yeah, I’ve been well. I can’t complain.
I was speaking to Joe and Adam about the Fun House party, which seems like a really cool, new initiative.
First of all, you know there’s no party like a Shaq party. Miami Ultra weekend, there’s gonna be flames. We planned a party with the carnival element, and we have a collection of the world’s best DJs. And when I say “best,” I mean Top 10 DJs. It’s gonna be like a fantasy, cabaret show with unique carnival performances. This event is something you’ll never see [anywhere else]. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be over-the-top, and it’s invite only. It’s gonna be hype.
That’s awesome. Where did you get the idea or the inspiration behind the party to do it like this and to do it now?
Well, my partners, Joe, Adam and the Big Room Group, those guys are musical experts. We started talking about how we could do something different, and we pulled our resources together. Those guys helped turn my vision into a reality. A lot of people think I’m a “celebrity DJ,” but I’ve been DJing since I was 14 years old. Probably got to wait a couple years before doing my album, but I’ll still stay with it. And Joe, I met Joe at Tomorrowworld. I went to the one in 2014 with my girlfriend, and they told me Joe was in charge. I said “Joe, I know you don’t know me,” and he said, “I know you’re Shaq.” I said, “Next year when y’all do this, let me do what I do.” Joe went, “You don’t know how to fuckin’ DJ.” I said, “Joe, trust me.” Joe did the small thing. He never put me on the big stage, but he gave me a small stage, and I rocked that mother fucker. I had that place jumpin’. Joe came to a couple of my shows, and he knows I’m a real DJ. I’ve been doing this a couple of years. I understand I fall into the “celebrity DJ” category, which is fine. Whenever we do parties, it’s all about fun, making sure people enjoy themselves, and making people dance. That’s what I love to do.
In terms of Shaq’s Fun House as a brand, do you see that expanding beyond Miami?
We definitely see it expanding beyond Miami. Two things will bring people together, no matter what’s going on in society; sports and music. It’s great to see at TomorrowWorld the different nations, different flags, different people out there just jumping up and down, having a good time. I didn’t see no cops out there. I also didn’t see no violence out there either. That just tells me that music and sports are two things that definitely bring people together. To answer your question: Yes, we can definitely see this going all over the world.
I was at your performance at TomorrowWorld, and it was a really great vibe. It’s been interesting to see how the music climate has kinda shifted in that time too. Obviously hip-hop has become such a dominant force in the music landscape and in America. I know you’ve been DJing hip-hop for a long time. Love to hear your thoughts on where we’re at musically.
One of the things I love about music is I could just sit in my car and just listen to a whole different genre of music. Of course, when I was growing up, it was all the East coast, and one day I popped in some Dr. Dre, and now you got West Coast. I heard Skrillex one day, and I told my girlfriend, “I’m gonna start getting into this.” So, I do more of hip-hop and trap when I DJ, but it’s also good to mix it up. I have music for all. Music is at a wonderful place, like sports, because you’ve got great superstars. You’ve got great DJs.
Why is Miami such a special place to kick this off?
Miami has always been a big city for DJs, and a big city for music. With Ultra week, they’re gonna have a lot of people down there, so everyone knows Shaq is the top artist-drawer in the world. Shaq’s house is a party where people’s are ready to party. It’s a win-win situation.
What kind of music are you playing these days? How has your DJing approach evolved?
I love trappy, quirky songs. I’ve been doing a lot of sounds that people know. I understand that you have to keep the crowd’s attention. I plan on just keeping the crowd interested and showing them some of my personality. Just making people have a good time.
Joe and Adam sent me the list of all those top guys who are playing in Miami. What does it mean to you to have those top guys play the party? Are you friends with those guys?
I’m a fan of the music. I’m a fan of the business. I talked to a few of those guys. I’ve watched a few of those guys perform, and it’s just great. The way that they keep the crowd going, it was just a fun time. I like it.
If there was anything else you wanted to talk about that I didn’t touch upon, feel free to say it.
Yeah, we gonna do it a little different. Definitely gonna make it a one-of-a-kind party. We’re gonna start it at 2 a.m., which I’m particularly excited about. It’s Miami’s biggest week, so we’re just gonna have fun.