September 25, 2013: Birthday Rap-Off with Will Smith, T.I. and Childish Gambino

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When the time comes to declare National Rap Day, the date of September 25th will surely be in contention. Today is, after all, the birthday of not just Will Smith. And not just Childish Gambino. And not just T.I. Verily, today is the birthday of all three of these important rap figures–which makes for a fine excuse to start the day with a blastin’…

Will Smith T.I. Donald Glover

Yes,  it’s true that Will Smith–turning 45 years old today–is the enduring veteran of this trinity. There are probably a lot of people out there who aren’t even aware that the film star began as the most friendly rapper of the ’80s. (“He raps happy,” says token white guy Neil Patrick Harris in Undercover Brother.) Will Smith was an important rap figure for just that reason, and we’re always thrilled to see Smith keeping it real by still bringing his old partner DJ Jazzy Jeff along to important events. They even performed together at the premiere party for Men in Black 3. But for today’s special Birthday Rap-Off, we’re going to give you Will  really driving the crowd crazy in England as he wows the crowd at The Graham Norton Show with a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air retro spectacle that’s truly spectacular. Seriously, check out how Will goes from stumbling to fierce…

Childish Gambino is, of course a more modern creation. Literally, since writer/actor/comedian Donald Glover (turning 30 today) got the name from an online Wu-Tang Name Generator. Childish Gambino is plenty creative in his own right, too. Glover might have lost out in his campaign to play Peter Parker in the Spider-Man reboot, but Gambino has become an unlikely success. He’s sounding pretty important, too, and is shaking up the rap scene with his live band and influential guest appearances. Never mind that his audience is mostly fans of Glover’s work on Community. Gambino already has Glover heading out of the show with just a few guest appearances this year–and Glover’s upcoming show on FX is said to be more about music than comedy. There’s plenty of Gambino to go around, and here’s “Bonfire,” where he asks the musical question, “Why does every black actor gotta rap some?”

T.I. (aka T.I.P., Tip, and Clifford Harris)  is turning 33 years old today, and he might have been the real Yeezus if his career hadn’t been interrupted by a stint in prison over a federal weapons charge. That’s known as keeping things too real. A second stint over a probation violation didn’t help, either. T.I. has still enjoyed a hella success story as an artist who recovered from a lousy major-label debut in 2001 to become a major star by 2006. He’s actually peaking right now in a lot of ways, and that’s in a field where artists are usually embarrassing themselves by that age. We’re proving that with the very recent “Go Get It.” So enjoy this video, and…hey, are Will and Childish and T.I. having some kind of party? Let us know. Sometimes our invitations get lost in the mail….

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