Coolio, is an American rapper, musician and actor.
He recorded two singles in the late 80s, titled « Watcha Gonna Do » and « You’re Gonna Miss Me ». Neither single was successful, but Coolio had made connections in the Los Angeles rap scene, and ended up joining the group WC and the Maad Circle in 1991. WC was the group’s lead rapper, but Coolio was another rapper in the group. He had a few verses on the group’s debut album, Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed, including on the single « Dress Code ». The album was regionally successful but didn’t make much impact on a national scale.
Three years later in 1994 Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records and released his debut solo album, It Takes a Thief. The album contained the single « Fantastic Voyage » which became Coolio’s breakout song. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the biggest rap singles of the year. The album also contained a few minor hits in « County Line » and « I Remember ». Overall the album was very successful peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 200 and being certified Platinum. The album received praise for bringing a humorous and lighthearted perspective to often violent and profane themes of typical gangsta rap.
After the success of his debut Coolio became a legitimate rap star. In 1995 he made a song for the movie Dangerous Minds, and this song became « Gangsta’s Paradise ». « Gangsta’s Paradise », which featured R&B singer L.V., would became one of the most successful rap songs of all time, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. It was the #1 single of 1995 for all genres, and was a truly global hit, as it reached #1 in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. The song also created a controversy when Coolio claimed that parody artist Weird Al Yankovic had not asked for permission to make his parody of « Gangsta’s Paradise », titled « Amish Paradise ». At the 1996 Grammy Awards the song won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.
After the massive success of the Gangsta’s Paradise album, Coolio had a tough job to make a proper followup. His third solo album, titled My Soul came out in 1996. Although it did contain the major hit « C U When U Get There », the album was considered a disappointment and failed to reach the success of his previous two albums. Subsequently Coolio was dropped from Tommy Boy Records and his albums since then, 2001’s Coolio.com, 2003’s El Cool Magnifico, 2006’s Return of the Gangsta, and 2008’s Steal Hear have not been successful, as none has charted on any Billboard chart. He did have a minor hit in the UK in 2006 however in « Gangsta Walk » (featuring Snoop Dogg) which peaked at #67 on the UK pop chart.