Trevor Tahiem "Busta Rhymes" Smith, Jr. occupies a singular place in hip-hop history. He is a super-good rapper, blessed with a flow as quick and nimble and flexible as any we've ever heard. He's never put together truly great songs, though, or albums you want to listen to all the way through. He's perhaps most famous for his guest appearances on other peoples' songs—beginning with his jaw-dropping verse on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" in 1991, he earned a reputation as the genre's greatest scene stealer. (Andre 3000 has since stolen that crown.) What Busta is, though, I think, is hip-hop's greatest video artist. He is the [...]
Happy 70th to John Symon Asher Bruce, bassist and songwriter extraordinaire. Cream was pretty inescapable when I was growing up, but I've always enjoyed this one.
Country musician Larry Wayne Gatlin turns 65 today, which is pretty much all the excuse I need to run this clip here. If you stick around long enough the Gatlin Brothers play "All The Gold In California," but I am mainly putting it up to remind (or inform) you that this is what America was once like, and there weren't a whole lot of other options if you weren't into it. It's a funny old world. (Younger readers who are completely baffled might find some clarity here, but it's not going to explain everything.)
Related: The '80s seemed kind of dull at the time, but I guess everything looks a little weirder in the rear-view mirror.
Probably one of the four of five most prominent hip-hop producers of all time, Pharrell Williams turns 40 today. The new Myspace is celebrating with a nice collection of 41 of his greatest hits to listen to. (One to grow on, I guess.) But right here, please enjoy his latest, with the very-blue-eyed soul singer Robin Thicke (the one who's dad was on "Growing Pains") and T.I. It's a perfect little remake of the gorgeously slinky beat he made for Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It To Me)" thirteen years ago. The video borrows style from 1980's Robert Palmer videos, and there's [...]
Dianne Wiest has won two Oscars, but people hardly ever bring that up when they're discussing multiple-award winners. (I guess Hilary Swank having a couple devalues that or something.) Plus she has a couple Emmys. Anyway, she's 65 now. Happy birthday to her.
Kevin Patrick Shields turns 50 today. Remember a couple months back when everyone was all, OH MY GOD NEW BLOODY VALENTINE RECORD I'M GONNA DIE etc.? Do people still talk about it now here in the future? I'm actually asking, I don't get out much any more so I'm not sure what The Word On The Street These Days is. Anyway, many bloody returns.
Writer/performer Victoria Davey Spelling turns 40 today. All my copies of her work are at the library in the summer house, so instead of giving you some of the more poignant excerpts from Uncharted TerriTori ("Having it all isn’t always easy—especially when you’re a perfectionist—but with the help of her unconventional family and friends, an underwear-clad spiritual cleansing or two, and faith in herself, she’s learning to find her happy ending. Because when you’re Tori Spelling, every day brings uncharted terriTORI") we will instead have to pay tribute by watching this collection of some of the choice dramatic moments from her pivotal role as Donna Martin on "Beverly Hills [...]
Peter Philip Carey, without a doubt one of the greatest living novelists writing in the English language, turns 70 today. Remember when we ranked his books a couple of years back? I would switch 5 and 6 today. Also there has been a novel since then, which I will get around to soon, I promise. There's just a lot going on. Anyway, happy birthday!
There will never be another like Mr. Willie Hugh Nelson. It is kind of amazing to think that we all exist on the same planet at the same time he does. He's 80 today, and here's wishing him many more.
"Conan O'Brien. Remember him? Carrot-topped fellow with a persecution complex? Since his crucifixion by Judas Leno and NBC, his self-assisted martyrdom, and his resurrection performed by TBS, the decline in O'Brien's quality has been quietly shocking. For all the anger and energy and fan fervor on display in the 2011 concert documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, the O'Brien brand no longer has much fizz, and certainly no buzz. You won't hear his name on any list to replace Leno or Letterman now. Somewhat overrated in his heyday and yet underrated now (O'Brien and his truly invaluable sidekick, Andy Richter, continue to engage in exquisitely silly dialogue nightly), O'Brien [...]
Jimmy Cliff turns 65 today. There's plenty more to him than this, but even if it were just that it would still be pretty great.
The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding turns 40 today, so this seems appropriate. And also this.
"He's a founder of Roxy Music, an architect of the Talking Heads' polyrhythmic funk and half of the production team responsible for turning U2's earnest Christian balladry into tolerable, sometimes adventurous stadium rock. In pop terms, his legacy is unassailable. As if that weren't enough, he practically invented ambient music; he's the Bill Monroe of the genre." That's how the New York Times described Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno nearly a decade ago; since then he has gone on to do a whole bunch of other stuff, probably with lasers or whatever. Anyway, he's 65 today. A few favorites follow.
"Scorned by his fellow citizens for his disastrous decision to provide cover for a corrupt war waged on false pretenses, the former leader of the United Kingdom found himself at 60 in dire, impoverished circumstances, constantly looking over his shoulder and fearful of travel, what with the possibility of arrest for war crimes always hanging over his head" is how a notice of Tony Blair's 60th birthday might read in a parallel universe. In this one, the guy is loaded and goes pretty much wherever he wants. He still turns 60 today though.
Carol Creighton Burnett, groundbreaking American comedy hero, turns 80 today. There are plenty of clips out there like this, and if you wanted to spend your day watching them who could blame you? The woman is a legend.
Many happy returns to Mr. Thomas Andrew Lehrer, an American original.