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Coolio in November 2002 performing for U.S. Army soldiers in Bosnia
Artis Leon Ivey Jr.

(1963-08-01) August 1, 1963 (age 58)
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • record producer
  • actor
Years active1987–present[1]
Josefa Salinas
(m. 1996; div. 2000)
Musical career
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Associated acts

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. (born August 1, 1963), known professionally as Coolio, is an American rapper, singer, record producer, and actor. Coolio achieved mainstream success in the mid-to-late 1990s with his albums It Takes a Thief (1994), Gangsta's Paradise (1995), and My Soul (1997). He is best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single "Gangsta's Paradise", as well as other singles "Fantastic Voyage" (1994), "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" (1996) and "C U When U Get There" (1997).

He was also known for rapping the theme song ("Aw, Here It Goes!") for the late 1990s Nickelodeon series Kenan & Kel. Coolio has since gone on to release albums independently and has also become a chef, creating a web series titled Cookin' with Coolio and releasing a cookbook. Ivey originally rose to fame as a member of the Gangsta rap group WC and the Maad Circle alongside WC and his brother, Crazy Toones.

Early life[edit]

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was born in Compton, California.[4][5] After attending Compton Community College, he worked in jobs such as volunteer firefighting and security at the Los Angeles International Airport, before becoming a rapper.[4][6]

Music career[edit]

He recorded his first single in 1987, titled "Whatcha Gonna Do?".[1] He also recorded "What Makes You Dance (Force Groove)" with Nu-Skool in 1988. Coolio made connections in the L.A. rap scene, and in 1991, ended up joining the group WC and the Maad Circle, led by rapper WC. He was a co-contributor on the group's debut album Ain't a Damn Thang Changed, including on the single "Dress Code". The album was regionally successful.

Tommy Boy Records and It Takes a Thief[edit]

In 1994, Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his debut solo album It Takes a Thief. The lead single "Fantastic Voyage" received heavy rotation on MTV, and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Fantastic Voyage" would become one of the biggest rap singles of the year, and the album contained a few other minor hits in "County Line" and "I Remember". It Takes a Thief peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200,[7] becoming certified Platinum.[8] The album received praise for bringing a humorous and lighthearted perspective to often violent and profane themes of typical gangsta rap.[4]

Gangsta's Paradise[edit]

In 1995, Coolio released "Gangsta's Paradise", featuring R&B singer L.V., for the film Dangerous Minds. It would become one of the most successful rap songs of all time, topping on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. It was the No. 1 single of 1995 in the United States for all genres, and was a global hit topping the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand chart. "Gangsta's Paradise" was the second-best-selling single of 1995 in the UK. The song also created a controversy when Coolio claimed that comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic had not asked for permission to make his parody of "Gangsta's Paradise", titled "Amish Paradise".[9] At the 1996 Grammy Awards, the song won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.

Originally "Gangsta's Paradise" was not meant to be included on one of Coolio's studio albums, but its success led to Coolio not only putting it on his next album but also making it the title track. The title track sampled the chorus and music of the song "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder, which was recorded nearly twenty years earlier on Stevie Wonder's album Songs in the Key of Life. The album Gangsta's Paradise was released in 1995 and was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA and sold more than 2 million copies globally.

The album contained two other major hits in "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" and "Too Hot" with J.T. Taylor of Kool & the Gang doing the chorus. Despite no longer being an official member of the group, Coolio made an appearance on the second WC and the Maad Circle album Curb Servin', on the song "In a Twist". In 1996, Coolio had another top 40 hit with the song "It's All the Way Live (Now)" from the soundtrack to the movie Eddie. He was also featured on the song "Hit 'em High" from the soundtrack to the successful 1996 film Space Jam with B-Real, Method Man, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes.

In 2014, the band Falling in Reverse did a cover of "Gangsta's Paradise" for "Punk Goes 90's", with Coolio making a cameo in the music video.

In 2019, the song received renewed popularity on the Internet when it was featured in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer.

Red Hot Organization and Tommy Boy Records dismissal[edit]

In 1996, Coolio appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD America is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip-hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine. That same year, he recorded the theme song "Aw, Here It Goes!" for the Nickelodeon TV series Kenan & Kel, which ran for four seasons, and appeared in the series' opening sequence.

After the success of Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio's next album was expected to be another hit. His third solo album titled My Soul, came out in 1997. Although it contained the major hit "C U When U Get There" and the album went platinum, it failed to reach the success of his previous two albums. Coolio was dropped from Tommy Boy Records and his albums. Since then, 2001's, 2003's El Cool Magnifico, 2006's The Return of the Gangsta, and 2008's Steal Hear, 2009's From the Bottom 2 the Top, and 2017's Long Live the Thief have not charted on any Billboard chart. He did have a minor hit in the UK in 2006 with "Gangsta Walk" (featuring Snoop Dogg), which peaked at No. 67 on the UK singles chart. Both of his last albums were produced by Joshua Fenu and Vanni Giorgilli from Subside Records.[citation needed]

While touring with hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse, Coolio received a tattoo as a homage to the group's fanbase, reading "Jugalo Cool" [sic]. He stated that the misspelling was intentional.[10] Coolio has performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos.[10]

Coolio was featured on an international collaboration track called 'Fuck the DJ' by UK rapper Blacklisted MC also featuring Bizarre of D12, Adil Omar (from Pakistan) and Uzimon (from Bermuda) the song was premiered on music website Noisey from Vice in October 2014.[11]

Television appearance[edit]

In 2004, Coolio appeared as a contestant on Comeback - Die große Chance [12](translated in English as Comeback: The Big Chance), a German talent show on which artists were looking for a comeback. Coolio placed third, after Chris Norman and Benjamin Boyce.[citation needed]

In 2009, Coolio appeared as a housemate on Celebrity Big Brother. He later went to appear on Ultimate Big Brother in 2010, where he decided it was best to leave the house after numerous confrontations with Nadia Almada and others in the house. In January 2012, he was one of eight celebrities participating in the Food Network reality series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, where he represented the Music Saves Lives Organization.[13] He came in second place with a Zagat score of 23 out of 30, losing to Lou Diamond Phillips. As runner-up, he was awarded $10,000 for his charity.[citation needed] He also guest starred as himself on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch when he helped Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart), Zelda Spellman (Beth Broderick), and Hilda Spellman (Caroline Rhea) to look for their cat Salem Saberhagen (Nick Bakay) who was kidnapped by a little boy.

Coolio was featured on the March 5, 2013, episode of the ABC reality program Wife Swap,[14] but his then girlfriend left him after the program was taped.[15] On June 30, 2013, he appeared alongside comedian Jenny Eclair and Emmerdale actor Matthew Wolfenden on the UK game show Tipping Point: Lucky Stars, where he came second. Also on June 30, Coolio voiced a wax figure of himself on Gravity Falls. He also appeared on the "Homie-Work" episode of "The Nanny" with Fran Drescher in 1998. He portrayed a nerdy man, a "gift wrapper", transformed by the Jewish nanny into a "Rapper" for Maxwell Sheffield's new Rap musical.[citation needed]

In July 2016, Coolio performed on ABC's Greatest Hits.[16]

Coolio appeared on an episode of the Adult Swim show Black Jesus in an episode titled "Gangsters Paradise".

Other appearances[edit]

In 2019, he appeared on Irish rap group Versatile's track "Escape Wagon". He later featured on their 2021 album, Fuck Versatile, on the track "Coolio Interlude".[17][18]


Coolio and jazz saxophonist Jarez were enlisted in July 2008 as spokespersons by the group Environmental Justice and Climate Change to educate students at historically black colleges and universities about global warming.[19] Coolio is a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. He says that he and his children are asthma sufferers. As a child, he was taken to the hospital several times due to asthma complications.[20]

Coolio was the running mate for pornographic actress Cherie DeVille's Democratic presidential run in 2020.[21][22]

Legal issues[edit]

In 1998, a court in Böblingen near Stuttgart sentenced Coolio to six months' probation and fined him $17,000 after convicting him of being an accessory to robbery and causing bodily injury.[23][24]

On September 17, 2016, Coolio and members of his crew were arrested for having a loaded firearm inside of a bookbag at Los Angeles International Airport. The bag was flagged by the Transportation Security Administration as the group attempted to pass through a security checkpoint. One of his bodyguards claimed ownership of the bag, but witnesses stated that it belonged to Coolio himself.[25] On October 26, 2016, in an L.A. court, Coolio was placed on a 3-year probation and ordered to serve 45 days of community service for the crime.[26]

On September 17, 2017, Coolio was denied entry into Singapore upon landing at Changi International Airport. Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority declined to comment on the reason for the denial, citing reasons of confidentiality. Coolio had been traveling from Beijing to Singapore to perform at a Formula One concert event.[27]


Studio albums[edit]

Collaboration albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

  • Long Live the Thief (2017)



Year Title Role Notes
1996 Dear God Gerard
1997 Batman & Robin Jonathan Crane[28] Credited as "Banker"
On the Line Lt. Gil Suggs TV Movie
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Dion Brothers
1999 Judgment Day Luther / 'Lucifer' Video
Tyrone Tyrone / Jerome / Cherone
Midnight Mass Blue Lou
2000 The Convent Officer Starkey
Leprechaun in the Hood Himself Video
Submerged Jeff Cort
Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth Principal (AFKAP) Video
China Strike Force Himself
Dope Case Pending
2001 Perfume T
In Pursuit Carl Wright Video
Get Over It Himself
Gangland Officer Harris
2002 Storm Watch Outlaw
Move Arthur / Ernest / Dre Short
2003 The Beat Emcee
Daredevil Dante Jackson Director's cut version
Ravedactyl: Project Evolution Maduzor Short
Stealing Candy Brad Vorman
Red Water Ice TV Movie
Exposed Big Heat
Tapped Out Cool
Sex & the Studio 2 Video
2004 A Wonderful Night in Split Franky
Dracula 3000 187
Gang Warz Dunzio Day
2005 Pterodactyl Capt. Bergen
2006 Grad Night Michael Adkins
2007 Futurama: Bender's Big Score Kwanzabot (voice) Video
Three Days to Vegas The Flow
2008 Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves Roger
Sides The Star
2009 The Lost Archives of Quincy Taylor Archpimp Mac McFreddy Short
2012 Two Hundred Thousand Dirty Manny
Inertia Promotional Trailer
2017 Nina Himself


Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Parent 'Hood The Gangster Episode: "Trust a Move"
Martin Himself Episode: "All the Players Came"
1995-96 All That Himself 2 Episodes
1996 Space: Above and Beyond The Bacchus Host Episode: "R & R"
Dangerous Minds Sex Educator Episode: "Pilot"
Sabrina The Teenage Witch Himself Episode: "A Girl and Her Cat"
1996-00 Kenan and Kel Performer: Theme Song TV Series
1998 The Nanny Irwin 2 Episodes
V.I.P. Himself Episode: "Vallery of the Dolls"
1999 Early Edition Julius 'C-Roc' Ruby Episode: "Number One with a Bullet"
Malcolm & Eddie Troy Jensen Episode: "Daddio"
2000 Arli$$ Ernest Episode: "It's Who You Know"
2001 Der Clown Himself Episode: "Stirb langsam"
Fear Factor Himself/Contestant Episode: "First Celebrity Fear Factor"
2001-10 Futurama Kwanzaa-bot (voice) 2 Episodes
2002 Charmed Lazarus Demon Episode: "Marry-Go-Round"
Static Shock Replikon / Marvin Roper (voice) Episode: "Duped"
Holla Himself TV Series
Robbery Homicide Division Greg / G-Down Episode: "Alton Davis Redux"
2003 Make My Day Episode: "Linda Narty"
2005 Joey Himself Episode: "Joey and the Poker"
2008 Cookin' with Coolio Himself TV Series
Coolio's Rules Himself Main Cast
2009 Star-ving Himself Recurring Cast
2012 Gravity Falls Wax Coolio (voice) Episode: "Headhunters"
2014 Black Jesus Himself Episode: "Gangsta's Paradise"
2017 Teachers Mr. Wence Episode: "First Day Back"
2021 Let's Be Real Himself Episode: "Episode #1.4"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Coolio awards and nominations
  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize several different recipients, have runners-up, and have third place. Since this is a specific recognition and is different from losing an award, runner-up mentions are considered wins in this award tally. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.

Coolio's 1995 song "Gangsta's Paradise" received several awards, including Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards; and Best Rap Video and Best Video from a Film at the MTV Video Music Awards. Coolio himself has received several awards, including Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist at the American Music Awards in 1996. At the Grammy Awards in 1997, Coolio received three nominations: Best Rap Album for Gangsta's Paradise, Best Rap Solo Performance for "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)", and Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Stomp". Overall, Coolio has received five awards from fourteen nominations.

American Music Awards[edit]

The American Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony created by Dick Clark in 1973. Coolio has received one award from two nominations.[29][30][31]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1996 Coolio Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist Won
1997 Coolio Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Nominated

Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Coolio has received one award from six nominations.[29][32][33][34]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995 "Fantastic Voyage" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
1996 "Gangsta's Paradise" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Rap Solo Performance Won
1997 Gangsta's Paradise Best Rap Album Nominated
"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
"Stomp" Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
  • "Stomp" with Luke Cresswell, Fiona Wilkes, Carl Smith, Fraser Morrison, Everett Bradley, Mr. X, Melle Mel, Coolio, Yo-Yo, Chaka Khan, Charlie Wilson, Shaquille O'Neal, Luniz

MTV Video Music Awards[edit]

The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV. Coolio has received three awards from six nominations.[29][35][36]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1994 "Fantastic Voyage" Best Rap Video Nominated
1996 "Gangsta's Paradise" Best Rap Video Won
Best Video from a Film Won
Viewer's Choice Nominated
"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)" Best Dance Video Won
Best Male Video Nominated


  1. ^ a b Peter A. Berry (August 1, 2018). "Happy Birthday, Coolio!". XXL Magazine. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Tenley Woodman (October 26, 2008). "Coolio in charge". Boston Herald. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "POP ALBUMS / Where Eagles daren't". The Independent. October 20, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Coolio Biography". allmusic. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  5. ^ "Artis L Ivey California Birth Index". familysearch. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Sweet, Matthew (August 23, 1997). "Golfa's paradise; interview: Coolio". The Independent. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "It Takes A Thief Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Gold & Platinum - It Takes A Thief". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  9. ^ "Coolio Did Not Want Weird Al to Spoof 'Gangsta's Paradise'". Yahoo!. August 1, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  10. ^ a b TMZ Staff (June 7, 2010). "Coolio's Tattoo Screw Up – Nothin' But a 'G' Thang". Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  11. ^ "Listen to Blacklisted MC's "Fuck the DJ," Featuring Adil Omar, Coolio, Bizarre, and Uzimon - Noisey". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  12. ^ ""Comeback - Die große Chance": Doris Day meets Grandmaster Flash". PressePortal. Presseportal. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Dish, The FN (July 29, 2011). "Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off: New Show Premieres This Winter". Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  14. ^ McDonough, Kevin (March 5, 2013). "Celebrity shows have hit the 'D-List'". York Dispatch. Archived from the original on March 9, 2013.
  15. ^ "'Celebrity Wife Swap' makes Coolio's girlfriend realize she could do better". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "Watch Greatest Hits TV Show -". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  17. ^ "Versatile release a new music video featuring Coolio".
  18. ^ "Coolio Interlude". May 21, 2021.
  19. ^ "EJCC Enlist Coolio and Juarez to Launch Green Campaign". Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  20. ^ "OrganizedWisdom Health | Discover what health experts are sharing now". Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010. Has a cooking show online called "Cooking with Coolio"
  21. ^ Mikelionis, Lukas (January 31, 2019). "Porn star ends 2020 presidential bid after 17 months, endorses 'my love, Bernie'". Fox News.
  22. ^ "Rapper Coolio and porn star Cherie DeVille plan 2020 White House run". San Diego Union-Tribune. November 15, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  23. ^ "Rap Artist Is Fined In Theft in Germany". The New York Times. December 4, 1998. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  24. ^ "Gangster-Rap in Böblingen".
  25. ^ "Coolio & Entourage -- Busted At LAX For Loaded Firearm (VIDEO)". TMZ. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  26. ^ COOLIO PLEADS GUILTY TO GUN POSSESSION...But Judge Digs His 'Do - TMZ(12/01/2016)
  27. ^ Yuen, Sin (September 17, 2017). "American rapper Coolio misses out on debut Singapore show after being denied entry". The Straits Times. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  28. ^ "Coolio Was Courted to Play Scarecrow in Scrapped 'Batman & Robin' Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. February 9, 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  29. ^ a b c "Coolio". Rock on the Net. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  30. ^ "Garth Brooks, Eagles Win Big at American Music Awards Event". Los Angeles Times. January 30, 1996.
  31. ^ "American Music Awards". The Washington Post. January 26, 1997.
  32. ^ "Will this be Sheryl's Crow's Night?". Hartford Courant. March 1, 1995.
  33. ^ Hilburn, Robert (February 29, 1996). "The 38th Annual Grammy Awards". Los Angeles Times.
  34. ^ "Grammy Awards". The Washington Post. February 23, 1997.
  35. ^ "1994 Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  36. ^ "1996 Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved October 18, 2008.

External links[edit]