Happy Birthday, Bow Wow!

Fill up the pinata with Fun Size Snickers and break out the good champagne, because today we celebrate the birthday of Shad Moss — better known to the universe as Bow Wow. The rapper and actor is only 24 years old, but when you sign your first recording deal at age 11 and drop your debut album at 13, you can cram in a pretty full career by your mid 20s.

Bow Wow was first introduced to the music world as Lil Bow Wow. He was rapping as early as age six, using the name Kid Gangsta and busting out relatively hardcore rhymes for a child. He attracted the attention of Snoop Dogg, who gave him the name Bow Wow. Later, he took that moniker to record producer Jermaine Dupri, who helped construct Bow Wow's debut album Beware of Dog. It's a particularly engaging and accomplished release, and it proved that despite his youth, his skills were pretty sharp. He followed that release up with 2001's Doggy Bag and dropped the "Lil" from his name for 2003's Unleashed.

By then, Bow Wow had already dipped his toe into the film world, scoring a starring role in the family basketball comedy "Like Mike." Over time, he has become as known for his acting as he has been for his rapping, and his starring role in "Lottery Ticket" and his stint on the HBO series "Entourage" (where he played an up-and-coming stand-up comedian) are both excellent accomplishments. (He also turned in a memorable performance in a classic episode of the Ashton Kutcher prank show "Punk'd.")

But must remains his first love, and the latter half of the last decade was filled with smash albums for Bow Wow (including 2005's Wanted, 2006's The Price of Fame and 2009's New Jack City II). He has another album scheduled to hit the streets later this year, but in honor of his birthday, crank up "Fresh Azimiz," one of his highest-charting hits and a signature tune from Wanted.

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