A Grammy winner and successful actor, Coolio was worth an estimated $1.5 million. In a sad turn of events, Coolio passed away on September 28, 2022, at the age of 59. The name “Coolio” immediately conjures up images of the ’90s. After the release of his first single, “Fantastic Voyage,” in 1994, he skyrocketed to fame.
His single “Gangsta’s Paradise,” released in 1995, went to #1 in 10 countries and became an instant smash. Coolio has put out eight studio albums, each of which has featured a number of successful singles like “Too Hot” and “C U When U Get There” (featuring 40 Thevz). More than 70 million copies of Coolio’s albums were sold during his lifetime.
He had appeared in over seventy films and TV shows, some of which are: “Judgment Day” (1999), “Leprechaun in the Hood” (2000), and “Three Days to Vegas” (2003). (2007). It was in 2009 that he published his cookbook, titled “Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price.”
Artis Leon Ivey Jr., better known as Coolio, was born on August 1, 1963, in Compton, California. Jackie, Coolio’s mother, was a factory worker, and Artis, Coolio’s father, was a carpenter; they divorced when he was 11 years old. His asthma meant he had to spend a lot of time indoors, so he read a lot as a kid.
As a teenager, Coolio joined the gang Baby Crips and started bringing weapons to school because he was having trouble adjusting to his parents split. At 17, he was arrested for larceny and spent a few months in jail. Coolio competed as “Coolio Iglesias” in local hip-hop contests while studying at Compton Community College, which led to regular airplay on Los Angeles radio station KDAY.
He entered a treatment center because his drug abuse was interfering with his music career. After leaving rehab, Coolio held a variety of jobs to support himself while he pursued his rap career, including those in firefighting and airport security.
During the late ’80s, Coolio released the singles “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and “What Makes You Dance (Force Groove),” and in 1991, he became a member of the group WC and the Maad Circle, who went on to release the album “Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed.”
In 1994, he was signed to Tommy Boy Records, and in July of that year, his debut solo album, titled “It Takes a Thief,” was released. The album was certified Platinum in the United States and Canada, and the single “Fantastic Voyage” was certified two times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and peaked at number three on the “Billboard” Hot 100.
The 1995 film “Dangerous Minds” featured the song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which was recorded by Coolio and R&B singer LV. The song was the best-selling single on the “Billboard” Hot 100 in 1995, earned Coolio a Grammy, and was named one of VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and NME’s 100 Best Songs of the 1990s.
In the end, “Gangsta’s Paradise” became Coolio’s second album’s title track, and the album itself went 2x Platinum in the United States and into the top 10 charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
The album gave rise to the successful singles “Too Hot” and “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New). Coolio’s third album, “My Soul,” was released in 1997 and was certified Platinum, but the album didn’t do as well as Coolio’s previous two, so Tommy Boys Records dropped him from the label.
After “Coolio.com” (2001), “El Cool Magnifico” (2002), “The Return of the Gangsta” (2006), “Steal Hear” (2008), and “From the Bottom 2 the Top” (both in 2008), he continued releasing albums (2009). Coolio has also made appearances on the soundtracks for a number of films, including “Clueless” (1995), “Space Jam” (1996), “Eddie” (1996), and “Nothing to Lose” (1997).
Film and Television Career
In 1995, Coolio made his acting debut on an episode of “The Parent ‘Hood.” Over the course of the next three years, he guest-starred on shows like “All That,” “Space: Above and Beyond,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “Duckman,” “Muppets Tonight,” and “The Nanny.”
In the 1990s, he also appeared in “Batman & Robin” (1997), “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn”(1997), and “Belly,” and he sang the theme song for the Nickelodeon show “Kenan and Kel” (1996-2000). (1998). Coolio has appeared on several reality shows, including “Fear Factor” (2001), “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off” (2012), “Celebrity Wife Swap” (2013), and the British series “Celebrity Big Brother” (2013). (2009).
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In 2008, he starred in “Coolio’s Rules” on Oxygen and “Cookin’ with Coolio” on My Damn Channel, both of which were his own television programs. Coolio has recently made appearances on “BTS: American Hustle Life” (2014) and “Black Jesus” (2014) and provided his voice for “Squidbillies” on Adult Swim (2017).
Awards and Nominations
Coolio was nominated for six Grammys, and he took home the trophy for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise” that year. Also in 1996, he won the American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist, a category he was also nominated for the following year. Coolio has won three MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Rap Video and Best Video from a Film for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” and Best Dance Video for “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New).” He has been nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards.
In the years 1996–2000, Coolio was married to Josefa Salinas. Six of his offspring came from his four different relationships with women. He has represented the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Environmental Justice and Climate Change coalition (along with saxophonist Jarez).
Coolio was sued by a woman in 2013 for allegedly jumping on her back and bull-riding her, and the woman won a default judgment against Coolio in federal court that year. Later that year, Coolio was arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly punching his three-year girlfriend in the face during an argument that ensued after he brought another woman into the home.
After Coolio allegedly punched a store owner in 1998 when she tried to stop him and his band from stealing clothes worth nearly $1,000, he was given six months of probation and fined $17,000. In 2016, TSA officers at Coolio’s former workplace, Los Angeles International Airport, discovered a loaded gun in his carry-on and he was again placed on probation.