Real Name: Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.
D.O.B.: 1st August 1963, Compton, California

Label: Riviera/Tommy Boy

Coolio is a west coast original gangster rapper from the Hub City (Compton). Raised through the developmental period of Los Angeles' answer to the New York scene. A starting talent from the Compton Posse and product of Mixmaster Spade's garage jams, experimenting with the East coast hip-hop culture. A musical reinvention of the genre came from Spade and the Compton Posse. Coolio found his way into the game alongside teenage Dr. Dre, DJ Pooh and King Tee before N.W.A. was even conceived. He has since been recognised for his major breakthrough hit songs, "Fantastic Voyage" and later the soundtrack-hit, "Gangsta's Paradise". Coolio has also made numerous television and film appearances. He got the name 'Coolio' after friends called him Coolio Iglesias because he played guitar. In high school, his nickname was 'Boo'.

The Early Years

The son of Jackie (née Jones), a factory worker, and Artis Leon Ivey, Sr., a carpenter. His brother is actor and rapper Malieek Straughter. He grew up in Monessen, Pennsylvania until he was 9 years old when he moved to Compton, California. He worked as a California Conservation Corps-member at the Pomona site.

Coolio started his recording career inside the rap group, WC and the Maad Circle, which included WC, Sir Jinx and DJ Crazy Toones. Together they dropped Ain't A Damn Thing Changed in 1991 and Curb Servin' in '95. Both considered solid underground west coast gangsta albums. The group disbanded not long after, to seek their own solo futures. Coolio had since dropped It Takes a Thief his début studio release. It generated the huge hit single, "Fantastic Voyage" a hit from the 1970s returned to the charts after its release off this album. The song received 2nd and 3rd spots on the Billboard Hip-Hop & R&B and the Hot 100 respectively.

1995 would prove to be Coolio's professional peak. His follow-up album was by far his most well-received and highest selling. It eventually went four times platinum in unit sales. The album-titled single was heavily featured in the film, Dangerous Minds and formed the hit single for the soundtrack also. The album hit the Billboard charts at top spot on all categories if not second spot. However, Coolio's next three albums, 1997's My Soul, 2002's El Cool Magnifico and 2006's Return of the Gangsta failed to live up to the success of his first two albums. Coolio's recordings also appeared on the soundtracks to Clueless (1995) and Dangerous Minds (1995). In 2005, he co-hosted the MOBO awards in the UK.


Coolio performed the theme song for the 1996 TV show Kenan and Kel, entitled "Awww Here It Goes" where he was featured in most of the song. In 2001, he was a special guest on Beat the Geeks. In 2002 Coolio guest starred in the hit series Charmed, as a Lazarus demon, in the episode Marry Got Found. He played himself in the episode Coolio Runnings of the animated comedy Duckman. He also voiced Kwanzaa-bot, a 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 reprised the character for the direct-to-DVD feature Bender's Big Score.

In 2002, Coolio was a contestant on Celebrity Fear Factor. During the third round, he referred to himself as "El Cool Magnifico" (which would become the title of his fourth studio album). That same year, he appeared on Celebrity Bootcamp and won. Coolio starred in the 2003 made-for-TV movie Dracula 3000, in which he played a space-faring stoner named 187, and the feature film Exposed, in which he played a rapper named "Bigg Heat". Coolio played the role of US Navy sailor Franky in 2004 Croatian film Ta divna splitska noć (Wonderful night in Split). In 2004 he participated in the German Comeback Show where he finished as third behind Chris Norman and Benjamin Boyce. He made another television movie appearance in 2005 as a military officer in the horror film Pterodactyl. That year, he also appeared in Joey on the episode "Joey and the Poker."

In 2008, Coolio is hosting an online cooking show (or video podcast), Cookin' with Coolio, for the network MyDamnChannel. He says he is trying to make "black food" healthier and more affordable for poor people (Newsweek). He says he "likes Bobby Flay and Rachel Ray".


  • 1994 It Takes a Thief (Chart Positions 5) RIAA: Platinum
  • 1995 Gangsta's Paradise (Chart Position 14) RIAA: 4x Platinum
  • 1997 My Soul (Chart Positions 49) RIAA: Gold
  • 2002 El Cool Magnifico (Chart Positions: ) RIAA: Gold
  • 2006 The Return of the Gangsta