Rapper, actor, and producer Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr., on August 1, 1963, in Compton, California. He got his start in 1987 when he recorded his songs “Watch Gonna Do” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, and shortly after, he joined the Los Angeles based group WC and the Maad Circle. Coolio then signed a contract in 1994 with Tommy Boy Records, through whom he released his debut album It Takes a Thief. The album was led by the single “Fantastic Voyage”, which went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and would garner him widespread praise. It Takes a Thief eventually went to #8 on the Billboard 200 and became a Platinum-selling album.
Coolio continued with his career success in 1995, when he released the song for the movie Dangerous Minds, entitled “Gangsta’s Paradise” about the cruelty of life on the streets. The single was recognized as one of the best-selling rap songs in history, and was the #1 song the year it was released. He won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. His next album, which he titled Gangsta’s Paradise and led with the single, went double Platinum. Coolio would go on to release the albums My Soul in 1997, Coolio.com in 2001 in Japan, El Cool Magnifico in 2002, The Return of the Gangsta in 2006, Steal Here in 2008, and From the Bottom 2 the Top in 2009. Coolio was also known for having appeared in the opening credits of the Nickelodeon series Kenan & Kel, and appeared in the cooking competition show Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off on Food Network in 2012.
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