Artis Leon Ivey Jr. (August 1, 1963 – September 28, 2022),[4] known professionally as Coolio, was an American rapper. First rising to fame as a member of the gangsta rap group WC and the Maad Circle, Coolio achieved mainstream success as a solo artist in the mid-to-late 1990s with his albums It Takes a Thief (1994), Gangsta's Paradise (1995), and My Soul (1997).

Coolio
Coolio.jpg
Coolio in 2002 performing for U.S. Army soldiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Born
Artis Leon Ivey Jr.

(1963-08-01)August 1, 1963
DiedSeptember 28, 2022(2022-09-28) (aged 59)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupations
  • Rapper
  • record producer
  • actor
  • chef
Years active1986–2022[2]
Spouse
Josefa Salinas
(m. 1996; div. 2000)
Children10
Musical career
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Labels
Formerly ofWC and the Maad Circle
Websitecoolioworld.com

He is best known for his 1995 Grammy Award–winning hit single "Gangsta's Paradise", as well as other singles "Fantastic Voyage" (1994), "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" (1996), and "C U When U Get There" (1997).

From 1996 on, Coolio released albums independently, and provided the opening track "Aw, Here It Goes!" for the 1996 Nickelodeon television series Kenan & Kel. He created the web series Cookin' with Coolio and released a cookbook.

Early lifeEdit

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was born on August 1, 1963, in Monessen, Pennsylvania[5] and was raised mostly in Compton.[6][7][8] His mother was a factory worker who divorced his carpenter father and moved to Compton when Ivey was eight years old.[9] Severely asthmatic, Ivey was a regular visitor to his local library as a boy. He started rapping as a teenager, earning the nickname Coolio Iglesias, after Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, which was later shortened to Coolio.[10] He was arrested for bringing a weapon to school and served prison time for larceny.[11] As Compton declined in the 1980s, he became addicted to crack cocaine, but quit drugs after spending time living with his father in San Jose.[9] After attending Compton Community College, he worked in jobs such as volunteer firefighting and security at Los Angeles International Airport, before becoming a rapper.[12][13]

Music careerEdit

Coolio recorded his first single in 1987, titled "Whatcha Gonna Do?".[2] He also recorded "What Makes You Dance (Force Groove)" with Nu-Skool in 1988. Coolio made connections in the L.A. rap scene, and in 1991, ended up joining the group WC and the Maad Circle, led by rapper WC. He is a credited co-contributor on the group's debut album Ain't a Damn Thang Changed, including on the single "Dress Code".[14]

Tommy Boy Records and It Takes a ThiefEdit

In 1994, Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his debut solo album It Takes a Thief. The lead single "Fantastic Voyage" received heavy rotation on MTV and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Fantastic Voyage" would become one of the biggest rap singles of the year. Other minor hits from the album include "County Line" and "I Remember". It Takes a Thief peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200,[15] becoming certified Platinum.[16] The album received praise for bringing a humorous and lighthearted perspective to the often violent and profane themes of typical gangsta rap.[12]

Gangsta's ParadiseEdit

In 1995, Coolio released "Gangsta's Paradise", featuring R&B singer L.V., for the film Dangerous Minds. It became one of the most successful rap songs of all time, topping on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. It was the No. 1 single of 1995 in the United States for all genres and was a global hit topping the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand charts. "Gangsta's Paradise" was the second-best-selling single of 1995 in the U.K. The song also created a controversy when Coolio claimed that comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic had not asked for permission to make his parody of "Gangsta's Paradise", titled "Amish Paradise".[17] At the 1996 Grammy Awards, the song won Coolio a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.[18]

Originally "Gangsta's Paradise" was not meant to be included in one of Coolio's studio albums, but its success led to Coolio not only putting it on his next album but also making it the title track. The title track interpolates the chorus and music of the song "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder, which was recorded nearly 20 years earlier on Wonder's album Songs in the Key of Life. The album Gangsta's Paradise was released in 1995 and was certified two times Platinum by the RIAA and sold more than two million copies in US alone.[19]

The album contains two other major hits in "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "Too Hot" with J. T. Taylor of Kool & the Gang doing the chorus.[20] Despite no longer being an official member of the group, Coolio appears on the second WC and the Maad Circle album Curb Servin' on the song "In a Twist".[21] In 1996, Coolio had another top 40 hit with the song "It's All the Way Live (Now)" from the soundtrack to the movie Eddie. He is also featured on the song "Hit 'em High" from the soundtrack to the 1996 film Space Jam with B-Real, Method Man, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes.[22]

In 2014, the band Falling in Reverse did a cover of "Gangsta's Paradise" for Punk Goes 90s Vol. 2, with Coolio making a cameo in the music video.[23]

Red Hot Organization and Tommy Boy Records dismissalEdit

In 1996, Coolio appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD America Is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip-hop artists. The CD meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African-American men.[24] That same year, he recorded the music video "Aw, Here It Goes!" for the opening sequence of the Nickelodeon television series Kenan & Kel, which ran for four seasons.[25]

 
Coolio in 2012

Coolio's third solo album, My Soul, came out in 1997. Although it contains the major hit "C U When U Get There" and the album went platinum, it failed to reach the success of his previous two albums. Coolio was subsequently dropped from the Tommy Boy Records label. Since then, 2001's Coolio.com, 2003's El Cool Magnifico, 2006's The Return of the Gangsta, and 2008's Steal Hear, 2009's From the Bottom 2 the Top, and 2017's Long Live the Thief have not charted on any Billboard chart. He did have a minor hit in the UK in 2006 with "Gangsta Walk" (featuring Snoop Dogg).[26]

While touring with hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, Coolio received a tattoo as a homage to the group's fanbase, reading "Jugalo Cool" [sic]. He stated that the misspelling was intentional. Coolio performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos.[27]

Coolio is featured on an international collaboration track called "Fuck the DJ" by UK rapper Blacklisted MC, also featuring Bizarre of D12, Adil Omar (from Pakistan), and Uzimon (from Bermuda). The song premiered on music website Noisey from Vice in October 2014.[28]

Television appearancesEdit

Coolio appeared as a contestant on Comeback – Die große Chance in 2004[29] (translated in English as Comeback: The Big Chance), a German talent show featuring artists looking for a comeback.[30]

In the television series Futurama, Coolio made two appearances on the TV series and one appearance in Futurama: Bender's Big Score, a straight-to-video movie for the show. He played Kwanzaa-bot, a rapping robot who spreads awareness about Kwanzaa.[31]

In 2009, Coolio appeared as a housemate on Celebrity Big Brother 6, which he placed 3rd. He later went to appear on the UK's Ultimate Big Brother in 2010, where he decided it was best to leave the house after numerous confrontations with Nadia Almada and others there. In January 2012, he was one of eight celebrities participating in the Food Network reality television series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, where he represented the Music Saves Lives Organization.[32] He also guest starred as himself on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.[33]

Coolio is featured on the March 5, 2013, episode of the ABC reality program Wife Swap,[34] but his then-girlfriend left him after the program was taped.[35] On June 30, 2013, he appeared alongside comedian Jenny Eclair and Emmerdale actor Matthew Wolfenden on the UK game show Tipping Point: Lucky Stars, where he came in second. On June 30, 2012, Coolio voiced a wax figure of himself on Gravity Falls. He also appears on "Homie-Work", a 1998 episode of The Nanny, in which he portrays a nerdy man, a "gift wrapper", transformed by the Jewish nanny into a "Rapper" for Maxwell Sheffield's new rap musical.[36]

Coolio guest starred on a 2014 episode of the Adult Swim show Black Jesus titled "Gangsta's Paradise".[37] In July 2016, Coolio performed on ABC's Greatest Hits.[38]

Other appearancesEdit

In 2019, Coolio appeared on the Irish rap group Versatile's track "Escape Wagon". He later featured on their 2021 album, Fuck Versatile, on the track "Coolio Interlude".[39][40]

PhilanthropyEdit

Coolio and jazz saxophonist Jarez were enlisted in July 2008 as spokespersons by the group Environmental Justice and Climate Change to educate students at historically black colleges and universities about global warming.[41] Coolio was a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. He said that he and his children are asthma sufferers. As a child, he was taken to the hospital several times due to asthma complications.[42]

Legal issuesEdit

In 1998, a court in Böblingen near Stuttgart sentenced Coolio to six months probation and fined him $17,000 after convicting him of being an accessory to robbery and causing bodily injury.[43][44]

In 2016, Coolio and members of his crew were arrested for having a loaded firearm inside of a bookbag at Los Angeles International Airport. The bag was flagged by the Transportation Security Administration as the group attempted to pass through a security checkpoint. One of his bodyguards claimed ownership of the bag, but witnesses stated that it belonged to Coolio himself.[45] Coolio was sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days of community service.[46]

In 2017, Coolio was denied entry into Singapore upon landing at Changi International Airport. Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority declined to comment on the reason for the denial, citing reasons of confidentiality. Coolio had been traveling from Beijing to Singapore to perform at a Formula One concert event.[47]

Personal lifeEdit

Coolio had ten children,[48] One of whom was born to his wife, Josefa Salinas, whom he married in 1996 and divorced in 2000.[49] In March 2022, he told Australia's Today Extra that he had five grandchildren.[48]

Coolio was the running mate for pornographic actress Cherie DeVille's Democratic presidential run in 2020.[50][51]

DeathEdit

On September 28, 2022, while at a friend's house in Los Angeles, California, Coolio was discovered unresponsive on a bathroom floor. He was pronounced dead by first responders. He was 59 years old at the time of his death. Police opened an investigation into his death, though foul play was not suspected, and Coolio's manager stated he appeared to have suffered cardiac arrest.[52][53]

Coolio was cremated in a private ceremony with no funeral service. His ashes were then encased in jewelry for his family, with the rest of his ashes going into an urn.[54]

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Collaboration albumsEdit

FilmographyEdit

 
Coolio in 2007

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Dear God Gerard [60]
The Big Help Himself [61]
1997 Batman & Robin Jonathan Crane[62] Credited as "Banker"
On the Line Lt. Gil Suggs TV Movie[63]
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Dion Brothers [64]
1999 Judgment Day Luther / 'Lucifer' Video[65]
Tyrone Tyrone / Jerome / Cherone [66]
Midnight Mass Blue Lou [67]
2000 The Convent Officer Starkey [68]
Leprechaun in the Hood Himself Video[69]
Submerged Jeff Cort [68]
Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th Principal (AFKAP) Video[70]
China Strike Force Himself [71]
Dope Case Pending [72]
2001 Perfume T
In Pursuit Carl Wright Video[73]
Get Over It Himself [73]
Gangland Officer Harris
2002 Storm Watch Outlaw
Media Whore Himself
Outlawz: Worldside Himself
2003 The Beat Emcee [74]
Daredevil Dante Jackson Director's cut version[75]
Ravedactyl: Project Evolution Maduzor Short
Stealing Candy Brad Vorman [76]
Red Water Ice TV Movie[73]
Exposed Big Heat [77]
Tapped Out Cool [78]
Sex & the Studio 2 Video
Four Fingers of the Trill Himself
Stupidity Himself
Move Arthur / Ernest /Dre Short
2004 A Wonderful Night in Split Franky [79]
Dracula 3000 187 [80]
Gang Warz Dunzio Day [81]
2005 Pterodactyl Capt. Bergen [73]
2006 Grad Night Michael Adkins [82]
Love Hollywood Style Himself [83]
2007 Futurama: Bender's Big Score Kwanzaa-bot Voice, direct-to-video[84]
Sound, Verses Fury Himself
Three Days to Vegas The Flow [73]
Don't Tell My Booker!!! Himself
2008 Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves Roger [85]
Sides The Star
2009 The Lost Archives of Quincy Taylor Archpimp Mac McFreddy Short
2012 Two Hundred Thousand Dirty Manny [86]
Inertia Promotional Trailer
2015 Lord of the Freaks Himself
2017 Nina Himself
2018 Vantasic Voyage Himself [87]
United Skates Himself [88]
The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story Himself [89]
2021 Fintech Rap Battle: Monzo VS Starling Himself [90]

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Parent 'Hood The Gangster Episode: "Trust a Move"[91]
Martin Himself Episode: "All the Players Came"[92]
1995–96 All That Himself 2 Episodes[93]
1996 Space: Above and Beyond The Bacchus Host Episode: "R & R"[94]
Dangerous Minds Sex Educator Episode: "Pilot"[95]
Sabrina The Teenage Witch Himself Episode: "A Girl and Her Cat"[33]
1996–2000 Kenan & Kel Performer: Theme Song TV Series[25]
1997 Duckman Himself Episode: "Coolio Runnings"
1998 The Nanny Irwin 2 Episodes[96]
V.I.P. Himself Episode: "Vallery of the Dolls"
1999 Early Edition Julius 'C-Roc' Ruby Episode: "Number One with a Bullet"[97]
Malcolm & Eddie Troy Jensen Episode: "Daddio"[98]
2000 Arli$$ Ernest Episode: "It's Who You Know"
2001 Der Clown Himself Episode: "Stirb langsam"
Fear Factor Himself/Contestant Episode: "First Celebrity Fear Factor"[99]
2001–23 Futurama Kwanzaa-bot (voice) Voice, 2 episodes
2002 Charmed Lazarus Demon Episode: "Marry-Go-Round"[100]
Static Shock Marvin Roper / Replikon Voice, episode: "Duped"[101]
Holla Himself TV Series
Robbery Homicide Division Greg / G-Down Episode: "Alton Davis Redux"
2003 Make My Day Episode: "Linda Narty"[102]
2005 Joey Himself Episode: "Joey and the Poker"
2008 Cookin' with Coolio Himself TV Series[103]
Coolio's Rules Himself Main Cast[49]
2009 Star-ving Himself Recurring Cast[104]
The Sunday Night Project Himself Episode: "Lily Allen"
2012 Gravity Falls Wax Coolio Voice, episode: "Headhunters"[102]
2014 American Hustle Life Himself Reality Show[105]
Black Jesus Himself Episode: "Gangsta's Paradise"[37]
2017 Teachers Mr. Wence Episode: "First Day Back"[102]
2021 Let's Be Real Himself Episode: "Episode #1.4"

Awards and nominationsEdit

Coolio awards and nominations
Totals[a]
Wins5
Nominations14
Note
  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize several different recipients, have runners-up, and have third place. Since this is a specific recognition and is different from losing an award, runner-up mentions are considered wins in this award tally. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.

Coolio's 1995 song "Gangsta's Paradise", a remake of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" received several awards, including Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards[18] and Best Rap Video and Best Video from a Film at the MTV Video Music Awards. Coolio himself received several awards, including Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist at the American Music Awards in 1996. At the Grammy Awards in 1997, Coolio received three nominations: Best Rap Album for Gangsta's Paradise, Best Rap Solo Performance for "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)", and Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Stomp". Overall, Coolio received five awards from fourteen nominations.

American Music AwardsEdit

The American Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony created by Dick Clark in 1973. Coolio received one award from two nominations.[106][107][108]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1996 Coolio Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist Won
1997 Coolio Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Nominated

Grammy AwardsEdit

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Coolio received one award from six nominations.[106][109][110][111]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995 "Fantastic Voyage" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
1996 "Gangsta's Paradise" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance Won
1997 Gangsta's Paradise Best Rap Album Nominated
"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
"Stomp" Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated

MTV Video Music AwardsEdit

The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV. Coolio received three awards from six nominations.[106][112]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1994 "Fantastic Voyage" Best Rap Video Nominated
1996 "Gangsta's Paradise" Best Rap Video Won
Best Video from a Film Won
Viewer's Choice Nominated
"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" Best Dance Video Won
Best Male Video Nominated

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