Rappers face one of the most competitive music genres out there. Still, the late Coolio stood out from the crowd thanks to his signature vocal delivery and penchant for crossover hits.
Coolio was even one of the first rappers to have his music parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic – a testament to his mainstream appeal and cultural influence. But what was Coolio’s real name and where did he get his slick stage name from?
The song most Coolio fans associate the late rapper with is arguably “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The track became a breakout single after its inclusion on the 1995 film’s soundtrack Dangerous Thoughts with Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer also shares the screen with Coolio in the song’s music video, which features R&B singer LV belting out the chorus.
However, “Gangsta’s Paradise” wasn’t the first hit performed by Coolio. That honor came the year before when the rapper’s debut album was released It takes a thief hit the charts. This collection includes Coolio’s first breakout single “Fantastic Voyage”.
Although “Gangsta’s Paradise” became the title track of Coolio’s second album thanks to its #1 status, his career continued to span several more studio albums, not being released until 2009.
Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., Coolio was initially called “Boo” in high school, according to the Black Names Project. But after a friend jokingly called him “Coolio Iglesias” as a riff on Latin singer Julio Iglesias, the name “Coolio” stuck and became his calling card.
When Ivey first started rapping, his nickname was a succinct way of describing his stage presence.
Given the rapper’s smooth vocal style, “Coolio” seems a good fit. Considering how well his career has progressed, he certainly had good reason to embrace it over time. Coolio received a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Gangsta’s Paradise” in 1996.
Coolio tragically passed away on September 28, 2022. The exact cause of death is not yet clear as the investigation into his death is ongoing. Though he is no longer among us, Coolio’s legacy will live on. “Gangsta’s Paradise,” 1994’s “Fantastic Voyage,” and 1996’s “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” remain the most recognized hits he’s ever made.
Fans still have all eight of his studio albums and his hits to remember him by. The rapper reportedly had a net worth of $1.5 million.
After 1996 he released his albums independently. More recently, Coolio launched the Cooking with Coolio web series. He also performed the theme song for the popular Nickelodeon show Kenan & Kelwhich ran from 1996 to 2000.
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