One of the biggest rap stars of the 1990s, Grammy winner Coolio – born Artis Ivey, Jr. on August 1, 1963, in Monessen, Pennsylvania - helped bring hip hop to a huge commercial audience at a time when the genre was marred by gang violence and the murder of some of its leading artists. Raised in Compton, Los Angeles, he started performing in high school talent shows where he picked up the nickname Coolio Iglesias. He became a regular on local radio and featured on tracks by WC And The Maad Circle. Signed to Tommy Boy Records, his thin, spiky dreadlocks and exuberant personality made him a natural star with MTV and children's channel Nickelodeon. His debut album, It Takes A Thief (1994), shot into the US Top 10 on the back of hit single “Fantastic Voyage.” Coolio's re-working of Stevie Wonder's “Pastime Paradise” into “Gangsta's Paradise” for the soundtrack to the Michelle Pfeiffer movie Dangerous Minds (1995) proved to be his finest moment, reaching Number 1 in the US, UK and 14 other countries and selling over 5 million copies. The single earned Coolio a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album Gangsta's Paradise (1995) also made the US Top 10, and he went on to score small hits with the singles “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)” (1996), “Hit 'Em High (The Monstars Anthem)” with B Real, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, and Method Man (1996) and “C U When U Get There” featuring 40 Thevz (1997). However, Coolio wasn’t able to maintain his popularity and didn’t achieve significant chart success with albums such as El Cool Magnifico (2002), The Return of the Gangsta (2006), and From the Bottom 2 the Top (2009). Coolio died on September 28, 2022, of heart failure.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Coolio

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