Artis Leon Ivey Jr., born on August 1, 1963, is an American rapper, singer, record producer, and chef. Interested in making a career in music from an early age, he received his start in 1987 when he released his first single. His breakthrough moment came in 1995 when his single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ became an international hit. Having won several awards over his career, he established himself as one of the most renowned artists in the genre. Celebrate the birthday of this hip-hop star with some insights and trivia into his life and career.
Artis Leon Ivey Jr.
August 1, 1963
American rapper, singer, record producer, and now chef, Coolio has won over fans ever since he first made his beginning in hip-hop. Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. on August 1, 1963, in Compton, California, he is of African-American descent. His father, Artis Leon Ivey Sr. was a carpenter, while his mother, Jackie Slater, was a factory worker. He attended Compton Community College where he developed an interest in rapping. It was also here that he earned his stage name of Coolio. After graduating from school, he worked odd jobs including firefighting and security at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Keen on making a career in music, Ivey recorded his first single in 1987, titled ‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’ The following year, he collaborated with Nu-Skool to record the single ‘What Makes You Dance (Force Groove).’ Over the next couple of years, he set about establishing contacts in Los Angeles’ hip-hop and rap scene. Then, in 1991, he joined WC and the Maad Circle, a hip-hop group. In 1991, he was credited as a co-contributor on the group’s debut album, “Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed,” which was moderately successful. After three years, in 1994, he signed with Tommy Boy Records and released his debut solo album titled “It Takes a Thief,” which peaked at number eight on Billboard Hot 100 and went on to become platinum certified. The album became his breakthrough moment and earned critical acclaim for its humorous perspective, which was in stark contrast to the prevailing violent themes of hip-hop at the time. The lead single ‘Fantastic Voyage’ from the album went on to reach the third spot on Billboard Hot 100 and was one of the biggest rap singles of the year.
His fame was further strengthened in the following year, when in 1995, he released the single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ featuring R&B singer L.V. The song, which featured in the Michelle Pfeiffer movie “Dangerous Minds,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in the U.S. and also ruling charts across Europe. The song was then featured on his second album “Gangsta’s Paradise” which was certified two times platinum-certified. The same year, he made his first appearance on television in the show “The Parent ‘Hood.” The single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ earned Ivey his first Grammy in 1996 for Best Rap Solo Performance. In 1996, he also featured on hit soundtracks for the movies “Eddie” and “Space Jam.” The same year, he made a guest appearance in the movie “Batman & Robin” as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. Later that year, he also appeared on a compilation C.D. “America Is Dying Slowly,” which was meant to raise awareness of AIDS.
While his rap career may have seen its highs and lows, Ivey continues to remain one of the iconic figures of the genre. He is also known for his philanthropic activities, most notably his support of climate change initiatives and organizations working for asthma sufferers as he suffers from asthma himself. He also tries to be a good father to his six children, spending time with them when he can. He has tried to overcome his issues with drugs and is attempting to turn his life around. He even ventured into business, launching bacon-scented wrapping paper in collaboration with Hormel. He has also endorsed several brands at the peak of his career. The award-winning singer, with one Grammy Award, one American Music Award, and three M.T.V. Video Music Awards to his credit, continues to inspire aspiring musicians and fans.
He marks the beginning of his career with the release of his single ‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’
Ivey joins W.C. and the Maad Circle, a hip-hop group, and begins recording music with them.
Ivey releases his debut solo album “It Takes a Thief,” which peaks at number eight on Billboard Hot 100 and becomes platinum certified.
The single ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ earns Ivey his first Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.
After being dropped by Tommy Boy Records, Ivey releases a new album, “Coolio.com,” his first independent album.
Returning to television, he appears in a German talent show, “Comeback: The Big Chance,” finishing third.
Marking a career shift, Ivey authors a cookbook titled “Cookin’ With Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price.”
He becomes the running mate for actress Cherie DeVille’s unsuccessful Democratic presidential run.
Why We Love Coolio
He is unafraid of change
For a long time, Ivey enjoyed success as a rap artist but when his career began to spiral downwards, he did not hesitate to turn his life around. He channeled his passion for cooking to become a chef and even author a cookbook.
He redefined rap music and popular culture
With ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ not only did Ivey achieve massive fame but also transformed the genre of rap music. Featured in the movie “Dangerous Minds,” the song became popular for going beyond the perceived style of hip-hop at the time to provide a humorous take on gangster life.
He has struggled to see fame
Ivey did not have it easy on the road to success. Having come from modest beginnings, it took him years to achieve fame and this too was not constant. He has struggled to turn his life around and stay relevant.
5 Surprising Facts
He collects snow domes
Ivey is a collector and he boasts of a unique collection of snow domes.
He could have been a voiceover artist
After he appeared on an episode of “A Tale of Two Santas,” Ivey was told that he could become a voice artist.
He has a misspelled tattoo
Ivey has a tattoo to commemorate the Juggalos but it is spelled wrongly as “Jugalo.”
His nickname was inspired by Julio Iglesias
Ivey earned his moniker after performing at a singing competition where the audience compared him to the Spanish singer.
He was a bookworm
When he was younger, Ivey was an avid book reader.
What happened to Coolio the rapper?
Ivey is now releasing albums independently and has also become a chef.
Is Coolio rich?
With a net worth of $1.5 million as of 2022, Ivey is comfortably placed.
Is Coolio a West Coast rapper?
Born in Compton on the West Coast, Ivey qualifies as a West Coast rapper.
Coolio’s birthday dates