Birth Date:
August 1, 1963
Birth Place:
Compton, California, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Famous for:
Top-selling hip hop album Gangsters Paradise (1995)
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Gangsta’s Paradise


Hip-hop artist-turned-actor Coolio is often identified with his single, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (1995), which was featured in the movie Dangerous Minds (1995). Besides providing fame, the signature track also brought in a Grammy Award, two Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, an MTV Movie Award and an ASCAP Award, as well as a Grammy nomination.

The singer also scored success with the song “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996, won an MTV Video Music Award) and the massive hit “C U When U Get There,” from the album My Soul (1997). Nonetheless, Coolio’s next musical project, El Cool Magnifico (2002), failed to do as well.

Making an entrance to the cinematic industry, the artist debuted in an episode of the sitcom “The Parent ‘Hood” (1995). He later had roles in Batman & Robin (1997, as the banker), the low budget film Tyrone (1999), “Futurama” (2001, voiced Kwanzaa-bot), an episode of “Charmed” (2002) and the little-seen Pterodactyl (2005, played Captain Bergen).

Off screen, Coolio was picked up in September 1998, in Lawndale, California, on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and marijuana possession. He once had a feud with comedian ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, who allegedly parodied his “Gangsta’s Paradise” without his permission. The dispute is now over. Coolio is married to Josefa Salinas.

Derailed by Crack

Childhood and Family:

Artis Leon Ivey Jr. (later famous as Coolio) was born on August 1, 1963, in Compton, Los Angeles. He earned the nickname “Coolio” from neighborhood friends who compared him to singer Julio Iglesias. Coolio is the older brother of actor/rapper Malieek Straughter.

Although having a troubled childhood, Coolio learned how to read from the Pelton Power Program for Kids at age 12 and then began rapping onstage while attending Compton Community College. He later became a regular on a Los Angeles rap radio station before developing a crack cocaine addiction. Kicking the addiction, Coolio entered rehab and worked as a firefighter in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. He also briefly worked in security at the L.A. International Airport amid the attempt to return to his rap career.

Coolio is married to Josefa Salinas. The couple tied the wedding knot in September 1997.

See You When You Get There


Before becoming addicted to crack cocaine, Coolio briefly joined the group WC and the Maad Circle, released the group’s single “Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed” (1991) and pursued a solo career with the single “Watcha Gonna Do.”

After kicking his coke habit, Coolio returned to rap and wrote the song “Quick Way Out,” which was later used for the movie Trespass (1992). Two years later, he released the solo album It Takes a Thief (1994) and earned nationwide fame with the hit single “Fantastic Voyage.” Furthermore, the single was then nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance and an MTV Video Music award for Best Rap Video. His next song, “I Remember,” appeared in Double Dragon (1994), whereas his “Dial a Jam” was heard in The Jerky Boys (1995).

Coolio immediately enjoyed massive success after recording the single “Gangsta’s Paradise” (1995), from Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” (in the album Songs in the Key of Life). The track, which Tommy Boy Records’ executives put in the biopic movie Dangerous Minds (1995), later became the first rap single to sell over a million copies in the UK and was then given a Grammy, two Billboard Music awards, two MTV Video Music awards, an MTV Movie award and an ASCAP award. In addition, “Gangsta’s Paradise” was nominated for another Grammy.

Coolio, who had a brief dispute with comedian ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic for parodying “Gangsta’s Paradise,” appeared as a gangster in an episode of the sitcom “The Parent ‘Hood” (1995). He was also seen in the comedy movie Dear God (1996, played Gerard) and the box-office movie Batman & Robin (1997, as the banker). Working with a movie soundtrack, the rapper contributed “It’s All The Way Live (Now)” for the Whoopi Goldberg-starring flopped film Eddie (1996), as well as composed the theme song for the series “Kenan & Kel” (1996).

Continuing his success, Coolio gained praise for the track “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” (1996), collecting an MTV Video Music award for Best Dance Video and an MTV Video Music award nomination for Best Male Video. The hip-hop artist multiplied his fame after releasing his next signature single, “C U When U Get There,” from the album My Soul (1997). “C U When U Get There,” featured in Martin Lawrence’s film Nothing to Lose (1997), later received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance. My Soul next burned the charts with the track “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem)” (1997) and “Ooh La La” (1998).

On screen, the hip-hopper was cast as Lieutenant Gil Suggs in the TV movie On the Line (1998) and had the multiple role of Tyrone/Jerome/Cherone in the low budget film Tyrone (1999). He continued taking on more screen roles, including Officer Starkey in Mike Mendez’ The Convent (2000), Kwanzaa-bot in the animated series “Futurama” (2001, voiced) and Lazarus Demon in an episode of “Charmed” (2002).

Leaving Tommy Boy Records, Coolio set up the label Crowbar Records and worked with the music bigwig Kenny Rogers for the album El Cool Magnifico (2002). However, the recording did not sell well and its single, “I Don’t Wanna Die” (featuring Krayzie Bone) missed the charts.

Coolio turned to the movie industry and carried out the role of Dante Jackson in the comic book adaptation Daredevil (2003). His role ended up on the cutting floor but still emerged in the movie’s trailers and the 2004 Director’s Cut. The artist also took part in little-seen projects like the TV horror Dracula 3000 (2004, as 187), the adventure movie Pterodactyl (2005, played Captain Bergen) and the comedy drama Grad Night (2006, starred as Michael Adkins). In 2006, Coolio will also be seen as Master Flow in the upcoming romantic comedy Retirement.

Coolio, who has previously collaborated with 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Method Man, LL Cool J, B-Real, Redman, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, is now managed by Italian producer Giovanni Giorgilli. Their first project together was the recent release “Gangsta Walk” (featuring Snoop Dogg, 2006).


  • ASCAP: Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” Dangerous Minds, 1997
  • MTV Movie: Best Movie Song, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” Dangerous Minds, 1996
  • American Music: Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist, 1996
  • Grammy: Best Rap Solo Performance, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1996
  • MTV Video Music: Best Video from a Film, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1996
  • MTV Video Music: Best Rap Video, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1996
  • MTV Video Music: Best Dance Video, “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New),” 1996
  • Billboard Music: Top Hot 100 Single Sales Single of the Year, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1995
  • Billboard Music: Top Hot 100 Single of the Year, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1995
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