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Coolio 1963–

COOLIO 1963–

(Carlito Green)

PERSONAL

Original name, Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.; born August 1, 1963, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Artis Leon (a carpenter) and Jackie (a factory worker; maiden name, Jones) Ivey; brother of Malieek Straughter (an actor and rap music performer); married Josefa Salinas, September 27, 1997 (divorced); children: six (some sources cite five or seven), including Zhaneand (daughter), Milan, Darius. Education: Attended Compton Community College. Avocational Interests: Collecting.

Addresses: Office—Crowbar Management, P.O. Box 5147, Culver City, CA 90231-5147. Agent—Don Buchwald and Associates, 6500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2200, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Career: Actor, singer, songwriter, and music producer. KDAY-Radio, Los Angeles, regular performer; Crowbar Management, founder of the record label Crowbar; The Replacements (music group), founder, c. 2002; concert performer at various venues, including appearances with United Services Organization (USO) tour to military venues in the Balkans, 2002; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, spokesperson. Appeared in advertisements. California Department of Forestry, worked as a firefighter; Los Angeles International Airport, worked as a member of the security team. Also known as Carlito Green.

Member: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Awards, Honors: Billboard Music Award, number one song of 1995, Grammy Award, best rap solo performance, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, MTV Video Music awards, best video from a film and best rap video, Grammy Award nomination, record of the year, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best movie song, all 1996, and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award (with others), most performed song from a motion picture, 1997, all for the song "Gangsta's Paradise" from the film Dangerous Minds; MTV Video Music Award, best dance video, 1996, for "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)"; American Music Award, favorite rap artist, 1996; other MTV Video Music awards; Blimp awards from the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards; America Online awards; World Music Award; platinum record certifications, Recording Industry Association of America, for the albums It Takes a Thief and Gangsta's Paradise and the singles "Fantastic Voyage" and "Gangsta's Paradise," and gold record certifications for the album My Soul and singles "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)," "C U When U Get There," and "All the Way Live (Now)."

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Himself, Phat Beach, LIVE Entertainment/Orion, 1996.

Gerard, Dear God, Paramount, 1996.

Banker, Batman & Robin, Warner Bros., 1997.

Dion Brothers, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (also known as Burn Hollywood Burn), Buena Vista, 1997.

Blue Lou, Midnight Mass, 1998.

Title role, Jerome, and Cherone (triplets), Tyrone (also known as Bad Trip), Tyrone Productions, 1998.

Himself, Lei ting zhan jing (also known as China Strike Force), Deltamac Entertainment/Indies Film Distribution, 2000.

Himself, Leprechaun in the Hood (also known as Leprechaun 5: Leprechaun in the Hood), Trimark Pictures, 2000.

Jeff Cort, Submerged, Underwater Productions/New City Releasing/GAGA Communications, 2000.

Officer Harris, Gangland, Dominion International, 2000.

Officer Starkey, The Convent, Lions Gate Films, 2000.

Principal Interest (The Administrator Formerly Known as Principal), Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, Lions Gate Films, 2000.

Dope Case Pending, York Entertainment, 2000.

Carl Wright, In Pursuit, Ajax Home Entertainment/Showcase Entertainment, 2001.

Cool, Tapped Out, Artisan Entertainment, 2001.

Himself, Get over It!, Miramax, 2001.

"T," Perfume (also known as Dress to Kill), Lions Gate Films, 2001.

Brad Vorman, Stealing Candy (also known as Internet Queen), Lions Gate Films, 2002.

Himself, Media Whore (short film), Big Film Shorts, 2002.

Outlaw, Storm Watch (also known as Code Hunter and Virtual Storm), Velocity Home Entertainment, 2002.

Big Heat, Exposed, Mainline Releasing, 2003.

Himself, Four Fingers of the Dragon (short film), Dragon Films, 2003.

Himself, Stupidity (short film), Trailervision, 2003.

Dante Jackson in director's cut, Daredevil, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.

Maduzor, Ravedactyl: Project Evolution (short film), Beyond Comics, 2003.

Master of ceremonies, The Beat, 2003, Ardustry Home Entertainment, 2005.

Dunzio Day, Gang Warz, 2004.

Franky, Ta divina Splitska noc (also known as A Wonderful Night in Split), 2004.

"187," Dracula 3000, Fiction Film & Television, 2004.

Michael Adkins, Grad Night, Mathis & Morris Productions/Barnholtz Entertainment, 2005.

Himself, Love Hollywood Style, Stein 5150 Productions/DMB Films, 2006.

Master Flow, Retirement, Corner Stone Pictures, 2006.

Film Song Performer:

"Gangsta's Paradise," Dangerous Minds (also known as My Posse Don't Do Homework), Buena Vista, 1995.

Performer of songs that have been featured in other films, television productions, and videos.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Himself, Comeback—Die grosse Chance, [Germany], 2004.

Himself, I Love the '90s, VH1, 2004.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Lieutenant Gil Suggs, "On the Line," ABC Movie of the Week, ABC, 1998.

Luther (Lucifer), Judgment Day, HBO, 1999.

Ice, Red Water, TBS, 2003.

Captain Bergin, Pterodactyl, Sci-Fi Channel, 2005.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Member of 20 Fingers, MTV's Spring Break '95, MTV, 1995.

Disney's Spring Break Blast, syndicated, 1995.

Motown 40: The Music Is Forever, 1998.

Judge, The 17th Annual Miss Teen USA (also known as The 1999 Miss Teen USA Pageant), CBS, 1999.

The Rock to Erase MS Concert, VH1, 1999.

Himself, 100 Greatest Number One Singles, [Great Britain], 2001.

Himself, The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll, 2001.

The Great American History Quiz: 50 States, 2001.

Celebrity Boot Camp, Fox, 2002.

Himself, VH1 Goes inside Fear Factor, VH1, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 37th Annual Grammy Awards, 1995.

The 1995 Billboard Music Awards, 1995.

The Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, 1996.

The 1996 World Music Awards, 1996.

The 13th Annual MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1996.

The 38th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1996.

The 23rd Annual American Music Awards, 1996.

Presenter, The 24th Annual American Music Awards, 1997.

The 26th Annual American Music Awards, 1999.

Prism Awards 2000, 2000.

ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards, ESPN, 2002.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Himself, "All the Players Came," Martin, Fox, 1994.

Gangster, "Trust a Move," The Parent 'Hood, The WB, 1995.

Greeter on the Bacchus, "R & R," Space: Above and Beyond (also known as Above and Beyond), Fox, 1995.

Himself, All That, Nickelodeon, 1995.

Himself, "A Girl and Her Cat," Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (also known as Sabrina and Sabrina Goes to College), ABC, 1996.

Musical guest, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's "Saturday Night," Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1996.

Guest, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1997.

Himself, "The Best of Muppets Tonight!," Muppets Tonight, ABC, 1997.

Voice, "Coolio Runnings," Duckman (animated), USA Network, 1997.

Himself, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (also known as Politically Incorrect), ABC, 1997.

Himself, "Making Whoopie," The Nanny, CBS, 1998.

Irwin, "Homie-work," The Nanny, CBS, 1998.

"Vallery of the Dolls," V.I.P. (also known as V.I.P.—Die Bodyguards), syndicated, 1998.

Troy Jensen, "Daddio," Malcolm and Eddie, UPN, 1999.

"Number One with a Bullet," Early Edition, CBS, 1999.

Panelist, The List, VH1, 1999.

Cecil Loftus, "Two Eyes for an Eye," 18 Wheels of Justice, The National Network, 2000.

Ernest, "It's Who You Know," Arli$$, HBO, 2000.

Guest, "Dark Side to Limelight," Turn Ben Stein On, Comedy Central, 2000.

Himself, Behind the Music: Weird Al Yankovic (also known as Behind the Music and BtM), VH1, 2000.

Guest, Full Nelson, Fox News Channel, 2000.

Guest, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2000.

Guest, Pajama Party, Oxygen Network, 2000.

Contestant, "Celebrity Fear Factor," Fear Factor, NBC, 2001.

Voice of Kwanzaa-bot, "A Tale of Two Santas," Futurama (animated), Fox, 2001.

Himself, "Christmas Show," Never Mind the Buzzcocks, BBC, 2002.

Himself, "Coolio," Player$, G4, 2002.

Greg/G-Down, "Alton Davis Redux," Robbery Homicide Division (also known as Metro and R.H.D./LA: Robbery Homicide Division/Los Angeles), CBS, 2002.

Judge, "The Battle of the Best," America's Funniest Home Videos (also known as AFHV), ABC, 2002.

Lazarus Demon, "Marry-Go-Round," Charmed, The WB, 2002.

Voices of Marvin Roper and Replikon, "Duped," Static Shock (animated), The WB, 2002.

Himself, Beat the Geeks, Comedy Central, 2002.

Guest, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, BBC, 2002.

Guest, Spy TV, NBC, 2002.

Guest, Pyramid, syndicated, 2002, 2003.

Contestant, "Tournament 1, Game 4," Celebrity Poker Showdown, Bravo, 2003.

Himself, Big Brother's Little Brother, Channel 4, 2003.

Himself, Liquid News, BBC, 2003.

Guest, Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.

Guest, V Graham Norton, Channel 4 (England), 2003.

Hollywood Squares, syndicated, multiple appearances, 2003.

(In archive footage) Himself, Celebrities Uncensored, E! Entertainment Television, 2003, 2004.

Contestant, "Tournament 4, Game 4," Celebrity Blackjack, Game Show Network, 2004.

Himself, Tout le monde en parle, 2004, 2005.

Appeared as a guest, The Test, FX Channel; as a panelist, TNN's "Conspiracy Zone with Kevin Nealon," The National Network; and as D.J., The Watcher; also appeared in episodes of Holla, Black Entertainment Television; The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, CBS; Late Night with Rita Sever (also known as Friday Night); and Weakest Link, NBC.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Mr. Thomas, Dangerous Minds, ABC, 1996.

Himself, Hitz (also known as Hits), UPN, 1997.

Snitch, FX Channel, 2002.

Television Theme Song Performer; Series:

(With others) Dangerous Minds, ABC, 1996–97.

Kenan & Kel, Nickelodeon, 1996–2000.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

It Takes a Thief, Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

Gangsta's Paradise, Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

My Soul, Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

Fantastic Voyage: The Greatest Hits, Tommy Boy Records, 2001.

El Cool Magnifico, Dragon Riders/Riviera Entertainment, 2002.

Singles:

"County Line," Tommy Boy Records, 1993.

"Fantastic Voyage," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"I Remember," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"Mama I'm in Love with a Gangsta," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"Gangsta's Paradise," Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

"1, 2, 3, 4—Gotta Get Up," 1995.

"Too Hot," Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

"It's All the Way Live (Now)," Tommy Boy Records, 1996.

"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)," Tommy Boy Records, 1996.

"Ooh La La," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

"Tuff Jam Uvm Dub," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

"The Winner," Warner Bros. Records, 1997.

"Yo ho ho," 2000.

"Hustler," TX2, 2003.

Other singles include "Whatcha Gonna Do" and "You're Gonna Miss Me."

Singles with Others:

B Real, "Hit 'Em High," 1996.

(With Forty Thevz) "C U When U Get There," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

Ophelie, "Keep It on the Red Light," 1997.

(With Kenny Rogers) "The Gambler," 2000.

XSS, "Peepshow," 2005.

Associated with the song "Raise the Roof," by Chazz.

Albums with Others:

WC and the MAAD Circle, Ain't a Damn Thing Changed, Priority, 1991.

Quincy Jones, Q's Jook Joint, Qwest/Warner Bros. Records, 1995.

Dazzie Dee, Re-Birth, EMD/Capitol, 1996.

George Clinton, Greatest Funkin' Hits, Raging Bull, 1996.

17 Reasons (compilation), Black-N-Brown, 1998.

Coolio's Crowbar Records Presents … (compilation), Beyond, 1999.

Also appeared in other albums, including performances with the World Class Wreckin' Crew and NuSkool.

Album Executive Producer:

(With others) Phat Beach (soundtrack recording), TVT/Blunt, 1996.

Forty Thevz, Honor among Thevz, PolyGram, 1997.

(With others) Now That's What I Call Music (compilation), Virgin/EMI/PolyGram, 1997.

Album Producer:

Clueless (soundtrack recording), Capitol, 1995.

Fresh Hits 1997 (compilation), Alex, 1997.

Videos:

Himself, Classic Albums: Stevie Wonder—Songs in the Key of Life, ILC Music, 1997.

Music Videos:

"County Line," 1993.

"Fantastic Voyage," 1994.

"I Remember," 1994.

"Mama I'm in Love with a Gangsta," 1994.

"Gangsta's Paradise," 1995.

"1, 2, 3, 4—Gotta Get Up," 1995.

"Too Hot," 1995.

(With B Real) "Hit 'Em High," 1996.

"It's All the Way Live (Now)," 1996.

"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)," 1996.

(With Forty Thevz) "C U When U Get There," 1997.

(With Ophelie) "Keep It on the Red Light," 1997.

"Ooh La La," 1997.

"Tuff Jam Uvm Dub," 1997.

"The Winner," 1997.

Blondie, "Rapture/Maria/No Exit," 1999.

Tupac, "Temptations," 1999.

(With Kenny Rogers) "The Gambler," 2000.

"Yo ho ho," 2000.

(With XSS) "Peepshow," 2005.

Associated with the music video "Raise the Roof," by Chazz.

WRITINGS

Albums:

It Takes a Thief, Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

Gangsta's Paradise, Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

My Soul, Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

Fantastic Voyage: The Greatest Hits, Tommy Boy Records, 2001.

El Cool Magnifico, Dragon Riders/Riviera Entertainment, 2002.

Singles:

"County Line," Tommy Boy Records, 1993.

"Fantastic Voyage," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"I Remember," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"Mama I'm in Love with a Gangsta," Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

"Gangsta's Paradise," Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

"1, 2, 3, 4—Gotta Get Up," 1995.

"Too Hot," Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

"It's All the Way Live (Now)," Tommy Boy Records, 1996.

"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)," Tommy Boy Records, 1996.

(With Forty Thevz) "C U When U Get There," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

"Ooh La La," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

"Tuff Jam Uvm Dub," Tommy Boy Records, 1997.

"The Winner," Warner Bros. Records, 1997.

(With Kenny Rogers) "The Gambler," 2000.

"Yo ho ho," 2000.

"Hustler," TX2, 2003.

Other singles include "Whatcha Gonna Do" and "You're Gonna Miss Me."

Songs Featured in Films:

(With others) "Gangsta's Paradise," Dangerous Minds (also known as My Posse Don't Do Homework), Buena Vista, 1995.

Coolio's songs have been featured in other films, television productions, and videos.

Television Music; Theme Songs; Series:

(With others) Dangerous Minds, ABC, 1996–97.

Kenan & Kel, Nickelodeon, 1996–2000.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 19, Gale, 1997.

Periodicals:

Billboard, November 4, 1995, pp. 11-12; August 30, 1997, pp. 10-11; May 30, 1998, p. 29; September 26, 1998, p. 16.

Entertainment Weekly, August 18, 1995, p. 53; November 10, 1995; December 29, 1995, pp. 46-47; August 1, 1997, p. 74; December 5, 1997, p. 16; September 2, 2005, p. 34.

Entertainment Weekly on Campus, fall, 1997, pp. 14-16.

Jet, March 18, 1996, pp. 32-37; September 23, 1996, pp. 62-63; March 24, 1997, p. 38; August 2, 1999, p. 34; January 7, 2002, p. 62.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 4, 1994.

People Weekly, January 29, 1996, pp. 51-52; October 7, 1996, p. 16; December 21, 1998, p. 103; April 11, 2005, p. 49.

Rap Sheet, December, 1995.

Rolling Stone, December 14, 1995.

Spin, January, 1996; March, 1996.

Time, December 14, 1998, p. 31.

Time for Kids, February 16, 1996, p. 8.

USA Weekend, August 16, 1996.

Electronic:

Coolio's Official Website, http://www.cooliosofficialwebsite.com, July, 2000.

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"Coolio 1963–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Coolio

Coolio

Rap artist

Lessons Learned at an Early Age

From the Streets to the Charts

Selected discography

Sources

Unlike other rappers out there just saying what they see, Coolio offers solutions. Just because youre from the west coast, and you talk about some real s, you get labeled a Gangsta Rapper, Coolio complained in Rap Sheet. Im not a political rapper. I dont rap about love all the time and s like that. I rap about all of it. Im a well-rounded person and I might say anything. It is important to Coolio that he makes that clear, because there are messages he does want to send, and they are positive. Although his Gang-stas Paradise was the best selling single of 1995, Coolio is just telling it like it is.

Artis Ivey, Jr., never pictured himself as the rapper Coolio when he was a kid. If anything, he dreamed of going to Harvard University. He was one of the four smartest kids in his elementary school, and although he was small and had asthma, he learned to take care of himself despite the violence of inner city life. His father had left the family when Coolio was two, and his mother moved them to Compton, California, when he was eight. The library was just a blockaway, and Coolio read every book he could.

Lessons Learned at an Early Age

Coolios life started getting sidetracked when he was promoted from fifth to seventh grade. The older kids bullied him. At about the same time, Coolios mother and stepfather broke up. At first her paycheck kept the family going, but when she lost her job she started drinking. Suddenly the boy did not have that family foundation under him anymore. That is when he started running with the neighborhood gangs, creating a sort of crazy man role for himself.

Either a case of mistaken identity, or taking the rap for afriend, landed Coolio in jail for ten months when he was accused of trying to cash a money order stolen in an armed robbery. He turned 18 while incarcerated. Coolio learned his lesson, never wanting to go to jail again, and tried to get out of that scene. But by 1985 he was addicted to crack cocaine. When he finally saw his life spiraling out of control, Coolio looked for help.

Cool io went up north to San Jose, California, and moved in with his father. He got a job with the California Department of Forestry fighting fires in the mountains. Between will power and faith in God he came back out of those mountains 18 months later clean and sober. Coolio had already turned to rap for solace in the early 1980s and even had a single out that got some local

For the Record

Born Artis Ivey, Jr., August 1, 1963, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Artis (a carpenter) and Jackie (a factory worker; maiden name, Jones) Ivey; married josefa Salinas, 1996; children: six (two with Salinas).

Rap artist. Became involved with South Central Los Angeles rap scene, early 1980s; recorded music with friend Spoon under the name NuSkool, 1980s; joined group WC and the MAAD Circle and appeared on their album Aint a Damn Thing Changed, 1991; signed as a solo act by Tommy Boy Records, 1993; released first major label solo album, It Takes a Thief, 1994.

Addresses: Record Company Tommy Boy, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010.

airplay. With the death of his mother of a brain hemorrhage in 1987, Coolio immersed himself fully in the burgeoning rap scene.

As a kid, Coolios mom had always called him Boo. He even had it tattooed on his arm in eighth grade. Although Boo or Artis is still what the family calls him, the street name Coolio came about in a more amusing fashion. Sitting around one day in Compton in his 20s playing guitar, one of Coolios friends came up and said, Who do you think you are, Coolio Iglesias?, referringto Latin crooner Julio Iglesias. The name stuck.

From the Streets to the Charts

Over time, Coolio recorded music with his friend Spoon under the name NuSkool. Then he joined WC and the MAAD Circle, whose album, Aint a Damn Thing Changed, came out on the Priority label in 1991 and sold about 150,000 copies. Coolio still did not have it made though. He had to experience the ignominy of being recognized by fans while in line for his welfare check. But in 1993, Coolios manager sent a four song demo tape to Tommy Boy Records in New York. They liked what Coolio had to offer, but at first only signed him to do a single. But when they heard what he had done in the studio, Tommy Boy signed him on for a full album.

The result was 1994s It Takes a Thief, and that record put Coolio on the map. The album went platinum with the help of the inviting, dreamlike crossover hit single Fantastic Voyage. He proudly calls himself a thiefhis own management company is called Crowbar. Their motto is Were getting in, one way or anotherhe acknowledges using samples of others work in his own music. As Mike Rubin put it in Spin, Coolio has mined a vein of multi-platinum ore by combining his slightly wooden vocal delivery with vintage, test-driven grooves.

In 1995 Coolio wrote Gangstas Paradise for the soundtrack of the film Dangerous Minds. The song sold millions, paving the way for the album of the same name. If people thought his first hit record was a fluke, Gangstas Paradise proved them wrong. In Spin Barry Walters wrote, [Coolio] has the power to appeal to folks alienated by 90s hip hop insularity because his lyrics are about things that concern everybodyAids, family love, respect, daily life, revolution.

Coolio has got a conscience and a definite drive to help make the world a better place through his lyrics. He is the father of six children and knows he is responsible for molding them into good people. Coolio feels it is high time for other folks in this world to start setting a good example.

Selected discography

(With WC and the MAAD Circle) Aint a Damn Thing Changed, Priority Records, 1991.

It Takes a Thief (includes Fantastic Voyage), Tommy Boy Records, 1994.

Gangstas Paradise (includes Gangstas Paradise), Tommy Boy Records, 1995.

Sources

Entertainment Weekly, November 10, 1995; Year End Special, 1995.

People, January 29, 1996.

Rap Sheet, December 1995.

Rolling Stone, December 14, 1995.

Source, February 1996.

Spin, January 1996; March 1996.

USA Weekend, August 16, 1996.

Additional information for this profile was provided by Tommy Boy Records press materials, 1995.

Joanna Rubiner

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Coolio

COOLIO

Born: Artist Ivey Jr.; Los Angeles, California, 1 August 1963

Genre: Rap

Best-selling album since 1990: Gangsta's Paradise (1995)

Hit songs since 1990: "Fantastic Voyage," "Gangsta's Paradise," "1,2,3,4 (Sumpin' New)," "All the Way Live (Now)"


Coolio achieved stratospheric album sales in the 1990s, with pop-oriented hip-hop grounded in 1970s funk. Coolio represents a lighthearted alternative to West Coast gangsta rap.

Coolio was born Artis Ivey Jr. in Compton, the gang-saturated section of Los Angeles that eventually spawned the rap group N.W.A. After a teenage affiliation with the Crips gang (the longtime nemesis of the Bloods gang), Ivey devolved into criminal activity and was jailed for larceny at age seventeen. Following his release, he enrolled in community college. He showcased his burgeoning rap skills at talent contests, adopting the stage name Coolio. His gruff, expressive voice landed him an on-air personality position on a Los Angeles rap radio station. Coolio used the platform to help release a local hit "Watcha Gonna Do." But before he could capitalize on the promise of that single, Coolio became addicted to crack cocaine. After completing a rehabiliation program, Coolio reignited his hip-hop career. He secured a cameo on the debut album by WC and the Maad Circle, Ain't a Damn Thang Changed (1991).

Finding strength in numbers, Coolio formed a rap group with actual robbers that he dubbed 40 Thievz. Coolio secured a deal with Tommy Boy Records, which had released hits by De La Soul and Naughty by Nature. Coolio's debut album, It Takes a Thief (1994), spiraled with the single "Fantastic Voyage." Built on an instantly recognizable funk record of the same name by the group Lake-side, the song offers a cautionary note to the romance of drugs and gangs: "Ain't no Bloodin', ain't no Crippin. . . / Everybody got a stack and it ain't no crack." The song and the album became massive hits, embraced by fans tired of the violent themes emerging from the West Coast.

Bigger success was still to come. Coolio fashioned his next hit single, "Gangsta's Paradise," off another classic, Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise." But his lyrical approach is a stark contrast to "Fantastic Voyage," and he is pessimistic and lamenting: "I'm a loc'ed out gangsta, settrippin banger. . . . I'm twenty-three now, but will I live to see twenty-four?" Concerned about its divergence from Coolio's well-circumscribed niche, Tommy Boy tried to bury the song on the soundtrack to the film Dangerous Minds, about an inner-city school. The song underscored the disillusionment of the movie and struck an international chord. Not only did it rocket to number one on the pop charts in America and England, it became the number one song in 1995. Tommy Boy highlighted it as the title track of Coolio's sophomore album (1995), and it won the 1996 Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. The lively Paradise sing-along single "1,2,3,4 (Sumpin' New)" went gold, and the album sold more than 2 million copies.

Coolio's subsequent moves eroded his credibility with hardcore hip-hop fans. He recorded the theme song to the Nickelodeon comedy series Kenan and Kel and tried acting in movies: He appeared in Phat Beach and Batman and Robin. Rap fans made Coolio the poster boy for watered-down, commercialized hip-hop. Coolio's third album, My Soul (1997) went gold, but only on the strength of Coolio's core fan base. At the same time Coolio began to face a series of legal skirmishes, from a shoplifting charge in Germany to a charge for driving with a concealed weapon and marijuana possession. Coolio seemed to embrace his overly commercial image by moving into television. He appeared in the game show Hollywood Squares, notoriously a repository of faded stars, and established himself as a regular contestant on reality TV shows like Celebrity Fear Factor. After Tommy Boy folded, Coolio released El Cool Magnifico (2002) on the small label Riviera. This effort attained only meager sales.

In 2003 Coolio's place in hip-hop was briefly recognized on VH-1's roster of "50 Greatest Hip-Hop Artists" at number forty-three. His placement on the list above trailblazers Kool Moe Dee and the Sugar Hill Gang rankled many hip-hop purists.

Although Coolio's reputation as a credible rap star seemed on the decline in the latter part of his career, he undeniably minted a formula for creating wildly successful rap-pop records.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

It Takes a Thief (Tommy Boy, 1994); Gangsta's Paradise (Tommy Boy, 1995); My Soul (Tommy Boy, 1997); El Cool Magnifico (Riviera, 2002).

dara cook

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