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Happy Birthday, Pharrell!

Mauricio Santana, Getty Images

Pharrell Williams is a full-blown superstar. But before “Happy,” and The Voice and Despicable Me and his work with Daft Punk, Pharrell was (and still is) known as one of music’s greatest producers. And although he still doesn’t look like it, he turns 44 today (April 5).

Even at his most hip-hop, Pharrell is still something of an oddity. Sometimes funky, sometimes percussive, his production always maintains some idiosyncratic quality that sounds definitively him. Part of his magic is how he’s able to make a variety of artists bend toward his weirdness. The result: hits on hits as one half of the Neptunes.

His slimy riff for “Superthug” still inspires an immediate bodily reaction, and being a middle schooler in the mid-2000s was worth it just to perform the “Grindin‘” beat on school lunch tables. In between producing hits for the likes of Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and plenty of others, he also fronts the rock band N*E*R*D, which is noteworthy in how it gave a generation of African-American skateboarders and backpackers an act to directly relate to.

Pharrell proved his longevity in recent years, too. After a dry streak, Pharrell rose again in partial thanks to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” in 2012. He also landed production credits on Kendrick Lamar’s good kidd, m.A.A.d city and Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, two of the most acclaimed productions of that year. “Happy” came the next year, and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” though they were found guilty of copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”

But the highs clearly outrank the lows. Plus–Pharrell is a creative genius, he landed just fine.

See 10 Looks That Prove Pharrell Williams Is a Fashion Icon

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