Coolio is a Grammy winning American rapper, who has sold over 30 million records globally. He was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on August 1, 1963 in Monessen, Pennsylvania and later moved to Compton, California. He was an intelligent child and was very fond of reading. As a young boy he had a very small built and was asthmatic which gave him a difficult time at school. His parents divorced when he was 11, and searching for a sense of belonging and companionship, he joined a gang named Baby Crips. However, he was never truly accepted by them, and in retaliation, he tried to develop a “bad boy” image by carrying weapons to school and defying authority. Although he was a bright and promising student in his younger years, he never really lived up to his academic potential. At the age of 17, he was jailed for many months on charges of theft.
After leaving school, he joined Compton Community College, where he began to focus on his love of rap music. He began performing in contests and adapted the stage name of Coolio. He began appearing regularly on a rap radio station called “KDAY” and released his first singles “Watcha Gonna Do”. During this time, he fell victim to cocaine abuse and had to enter rehab, which, for a time, put an end to his aspirations to become a rap musician. After being released from rehab he held a number of jobs such as firefighter and airport security personnel, all the while working to kick start his rap career.
The next song that Coolio released was “You’re Gonna Miss Me” but it did not receive positive reviews. However, he had begun to make friends in the LA rap and hip-hop scene, which led to a guest appearance on the debut album of the band “WC and the Maad Circle”. His own debut album followed three years later in 1994. It was titled “It Takes A Thief” and featured the poplar tracks “County Line” and “Fantastic Voyage”. The album was a hit and made it to the top 10 in the charts. It achieved platinum status and was given positive reviews by critics and fans.
One of Coolio’s biggest hits is the