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Coolio (born Artis Ivey Jr. on August 1, 1963) is an American rapper best known for the song Gangsta's Paradise from the Dangerous Minds soundtrack.

Born in Pennsylvania, Coolio grew up in Compton, California. Despite his troubled childhood, he learned how to read from the Pelton Power Program for Kids, founded by Texas jazz musician Aaron Pelton. He began performing after graduating high school. After releasing one single, Watcha Gonna Do, an addiction to crack cocaine derailed his career. After quitting and becoming a firefighter for a brief period, Coolio returned to performing and recorded his debut album. It Takes a Thief was released in 1994. The second single was Fantastic Voyage, which became a massive nation-wide hit.

Gangsta's Paradise, a rap 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 #1 pop hit in the US, and became the first rap single to sell over a million copies in the UK, where it also reached #1. Weird Al Yankovic parodied the song with Amish Paradise soon after, leading to discord between Coolio and Tommy Boy; Coolio claimed that he was unaware that Weird Al's record label had gotten permission for Al to do a parody of the song, and made no secrets about his discontent. A 1996 album called Gangsta's Paradise became another hit, while Coolio continued touring and started acting. His third album, My Soul, was unsuccessful. Legal problems (including thievery) in Germany, and later California put Coolio's career on hold. He appeared in a few films and set up his own record label, Crowbar Records, but his next album was delayed until 2002. El Cool Magnifico included a collaboration with Kenny Rogers on an update of his old hit The Gambler. He was the singer of the Kenan and Kel theme song.

Other pieces of his work include C U When You Get There, whose melody lines are based on Pachelbel's Canon

In January-February 2004, Coolio tried to win a record deal on the Comeback Show contest on German television, but eventually the group Smokie won it instead of him.

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 will be released in January 2006.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Coolio Facts

Birth Name Artis Ivey Jr.
OccupationActor, Musician
BirthdayAugust 1, 1963 (59)
BirthplacePennsylvania, USA
Height5' 9" (1m75)  How tall is Coolio compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Stealing Candy
Dracula 3000
Phat Beach
Futurama: Bender's Big Score
Lord of the Freaks
Judgement Day
Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The 13th
Red Water
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