COOLIO LIFE BIOGRAPHY:
Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr. on August 1, 1963 in Compton, California. He originally got the name "Coolio" from his musical talent being compared to that of Julio Iglesias but since he rapped instead of sang, and had a fresh cool mellow feel, he was given the name Coolio Iglesias.
Despite his much-troubled childhood, he learned how to read from the Pelton Power Program for Kids at age 12, founded by Texas jazz musician Aaron Pelton. He began performing after graduating high school. He was part of the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle, appearing on their 1991 debut Ain't a Damn Thang Changed, but he left shortly thereafter to pursue a solo career. This decision would turn Coolio into the multi-talented Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum selling artist, composer and actor, thats he is today. He is un-doubtedly one of the most popular and successful rap artists worldwide.
His road to super stardom was not a straight forward one however. After releasing one single, "Watcha Gonna Do", an addiction to crack cocaine derailed his career. After working as an airport security guard for a brief period, Coolio was able to kick his habit and then returned to performing and manged to record his debut album entitled 'It Takes a Thief' which was released on July 19, 1994. The signature track was "Fantastic Voyage", which sampled the 1970s Lakeside hit song of the same name, and became a massive nationwide hit, going platinum. The trakc was also nominated for a Grammy Award, among other accolades. The album also reached Platinum status and enabled Coolio to stamp his authority on the rap game, and show he was a serious player.
In 1995, "Gangsta's Paradise", a track written to the tune of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" from Songs in the Key of Life, was placed on the soundtrack to Dangerous Minds because executives at Tommy Boy Records felt it would not sell. It ended up being a Grammy-winning #1 pop hit in the US, and became the first rap single to sell over a million copies in the UK, while becoming the first gangsta rap single to top the UK charts. The video, which featured Dangerous Minds star Michelle Pfeiffer and was directed by Antoine Fuqua, received huge airplay on MTV. The song, also nominated for a Grammy for Best Song of the Year, has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, acheived 2x platinum status in the US, and was Billboard Magazine’s Number #1 single of 1995.
"Weird Al" Yankovic parodied the song with "Amish Paradise", from his 1996 album Bad Hair Day, which mocked the rapper's distinctive hairstyle on the cover as well. Coolio claimed that he was unaware that Weird Al's record label had gotten permission from Tommy Boy Records for Al to do a parody of the song. During his Grammy acceptance speech, Coolio made no secret of his discontent, which led to discord between the singer and the record company.
Coolio suffered from a case of indecisiveness when it came to the titles of his first two albums. His debut, It Takes a Thief, was originally named 'N Da Closet, while Gangsta's Paradise was first titled Geto Highlites, which Coolio confirmed on the TV show "Yo! MTV Raps" in June 1995, following the premiere of the Paradise video. However, it was later changed to capitalize on the immense success of the single "Gangsta's Paradise", prior to its November release.
After his 1995 hit album Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio continued touring and started acting. He contributed another Lakeside-sampled single, It's All the Way Live (the band even appeared in the video), to the soundtrack of the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg film Eddie, which flopped in theaters. His third album, 1997's My Soul, sold poorly despite the success of the single C U When U Get There. Using a choir, violins and a 280 year old piece of music (Pachebel’s Canon in D), Coolio created a remarkable song that is both painfully melancholy and beautifully optimistic. C U When U Get There was the first single from Tommy Boy’s history to become gold in South Africa. It was featured on the soundtrack to the 1997 Martin Lawrence film Nothing To Lose, and landed Coolio a spot on The Tonight Show. The album also reached Gold status.
After leaving Tommy Boy, he appeared in a few films and set up his own record label, Crowbar Records. In 1998, he teamed up with country music legend Kenny Rogers to record a track for Coolio's next album, an updated version of Rogers' 1978 hit The Gambler. But the record, El Cool Magnifico, did not hit shelves until 2002.
Coolio has appeared on songs alongside 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Martin Quintero, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, LL Cool J, B-Real, Redman, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony along with regular collaborators LV and the 40 Thevz. LV, who performed backup vocals on Gangsta's Paradise, released a solo effort in 1996, while 40 Thevz did likewise the next year under Coolio's Crowbar label, but neither proved successful.
In January-February 2004, Coolio tried to win a record deal on the "Comeback Show" contest on German television, but eventually became only third after former Smokie-singer Chris Norman and former boy band singer Benjamin Boyce.
Coolio has recorded songs for several motion pictures including Space Jam, Clueless, The Big Payback, Panther, New Jersey Drive, Eddie and composed the theme song for the popular TV series Kenan & Kel. Coolio also guest starred in the hit series Charmed, as a Lazarus demon, in the episode Marry Go Round. He also voiced Kwanzaa-bot, a one-off character featured in the A Tale Of Two Santas episode of Futurama. In fact, according to the DVD commentary, the producers of Futurama were so impressed by his range of voices, that they said he could do voice-over work professionally.
Coolio has successfully made the transition from performer to actor and enjoys balancing both professions. He has
appeared in the features Batman & Robin, Dear God, Phat Beach, Patrice Jones, and The Big Payback. Coolio has a starring role in the movie Tyrone, playing 3 siblings-Tyrone, Jerome, and their sister Sherone. Coolio recently co-starred in the feature films Perfume with Paul Sorvino, Omar Epps, Jeff Goldbloom, and Carmen Electric, and also In Pursuit, with Daniel Baldwin and Claudia Schiffer and he has cameo appearances in Leprechaun In The Hood, Getting Over Alice and Judgement Day.
In September 2005, he signed a worldwide record contract for three albums with Subside Records of the Italian producer Giovanni Giorgilli. Vanni G, as he is better known in the Italian dance scene, will be Coolio's new manager and producer. The first collaboration is "Gangsta Walk" featuring Snoop Dogg. The new album, "The Return of the Gangsta", has yet to be released.
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