Childhood & Early Life
Born Artis Leon Ivey, to Artis Leon Ivey Sr., a carpenter, and Jackie Slater, a factory worker, Coolio was prone to asthma attacks. Intelligent, studious and well-informed, he found life outside home difficult.
He joined the street gang, Baby Crips, and tried to create a wild and violent image of himself by carrying weapons to school. His studies suffered after being jailed for several months for larceny.
After high school, he attended Compton Community College and renewed his high school interest in rap and performed in contests where he was called ‘Coolio Iglesias.’, and on L.A’s rap radio station, KDAY.
To overcome his cocaine addiction, which disrupted his budding career as a rapper, he entered rehab. When he came out, he worked various odd jobs, but was determined to revive his rap career.
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In 1987, Coolio recorded two singles, ‘Watch Gonna Do’ and ‘You're Gonna Miss Me’. He joined the band, group WC and the Maad Circle, four years later.
In 1994, his debut solo album, ‘It Takes a Thief’ boasted the hit single ‘Fantastic Voyage’ that reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and minor hits including ‘County Line’ and ‘I Remember’.
Cashing on the success of ‘Gangsta's Paradise’, he released an album by the same name in 1995. This double platinum album had two hit singles ‘1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)’ and ‘Too Hot’.
Despite having officially left the band, WC and the Maad Circle, he contributed to their second album, ‘Curb Servin',’ in 1995; he featured in the single, ‘In a Twist’.
In 1996, he featured in the soundtrack of two movies singing, ‘It's All the Way Live (Now)’, and ‘Hit 'em High’ (with four other rappers), for the movies, ‘Eddie’ and ‘Space Jam’, respectively.
For Red Hot Organization's much acclaimed compilation CD, ‘America is Dying Slowly’, in 1996, he contributed the single, ‘I Breaks ‘Em Off’, and recorded the theme song for the TV series, Kenan & Kel.
His 1996 album,’ My Soul’, certified platinum, included the super hit single ‘C U When U Get There’, but performed below expectations, and Tommy Boy Records ended their contract with the singer.
Between 2001 and 2008, he released four albums, ‘Coolio.com’, ‘El Cool Magnifico’, ‘The Return of the Gangsta’, and ‘Steal Hear’, which failed to show up on the charts.
In 2002, he appeared on the television program, ‘Celebrity Fear Factor’, calling himself, “El Cool Magnifico”, (which became the name of his fourth studio album). That year, he won the ‘Celebrity Bootcamp’.
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He has been a regular performer at The Gathering of the Juggalos, an annual festival organized by Psychopathic Records. The event spans five days, and over 107,000 music lovers attend it annually.
In 2008, he hosted ‘Cookin’ with Coolio’, an online cooking show along with jazz artist Jarez, for the website My Damn Channel - a cookbook based on the show was released the next year.
In 2009, he appeared on the television show, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’. He appeared on ‘Ultimate Big Brother’ the following year, but was removed from the house for objectionable behavior towards his housemates.
In January 2012, he was the runner-up in the Food Network reality series, ‘Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off’. He represented the Music Saves Lives organization and won $10,000 for his charity.
In 2013, he declared his intentions of taking his chef career to the next level; he planned to auction 123 of his songs which would fetch him between $134,000 and $225,000 for the purpose.
The rapper continues to perform in concerts. In February 2014, he shared the stage with Goast, Jarel and DJ Locomotive in Ketchum, Idaho.