Title: Shaq Fu: Da Return: Da Return
Artist: VLK
Release Date: 2014 Sept 20
Genre: Ambient Plunderphonics
License: CC BY-SA
Label: Strategic Tape Reserve


VLK’s Shaq Fu: Da Return: Da Return is an experiment in transformation and really bad naming.  This is possibly the strangest release I think I’ve reviewed in a long time on many levels.

VLK’s Shaq Fu: Da Return: Da Return

I can honestly say I didn’t know Shaquile O’Neal had tried to start a career as a hip-hop artist back in the mid-1990’s.  But, ‘Shaq Fu: Da Return’ was actually the second release by Shaq as a hip-hop artist.  This album was more successful than I would have suspected reaching #67 on the Billboard 200 and #19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

The mid-1990’s period of hip-Hop is often talked about in unfavorable terms between the emergence of gangsta rap and cheap attempts to cash in on the success of the genre. Personally, I would have thought the release of Shaq Fu: Da Return would have been long forgotten as one of those cheap attempts to cash in by a celebrity.

So, 20 years later, along comes VLK with an ear to transform this recording into something completely different.  He accomplishes this through deconstructing the original and re-assembling it in a manner that is unlike anything that could have been imagined at the time.  The end result is might be considered to be an alien’s interpretation of what hip-hop is supposed to sound like.

In an odd way,  Shaq Fu: Da Return: Da Return is kind of entertaining to listen to. It bears no real resemblance to the original work (which speaks highly for VLK’s ability to transform sounds), but you know all the sounds came from the original.  If there is anything that strikes against VLK’s work in making this work his own it is the naming of the tracks as just numbers.  But maybe that is an intentional breaking of the relationship between the original work, and VLK’s transformation.


I have had this release in my queue for well over a month, and there is a reason for that.  I enjoy what VLK has accomplished with this work.  It makes a very strong case for the concept of transformation, which I have felt was weak on other releases.  On the other hand this work feels incomplete. Like there wasn’t a complete vision for what the transformations were meant to accomplish, and that’s the reason for there not being any names on the tracks, and the silly name of the release.  But, I am going to have to leave that up to the listener to decide if they feel VLK’s transformation has transcended the need to have a complete vision.

VLK: Shaq Fu: Da Return: Da Return




Posted by George De Bruin