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About Coolio

West Coast rap legend Coolio helped to define ’90s hip-hop with party jams like “Fantastic Voyage” and the more serious-minded “Gangsta’s Paradise.” • The Compton native started rapping at 15 but fell victim to drugs in the ’80s. He turned his life around by working as a volunteer firefighter in the San Jose area. • He recorded his first single, “Whatcha Gonna Do?” in 1987. • In 1991, he joined the group WC and the Maad Circle and worked on the group’s debut LP, Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed. • Coolio’s solo debut album, 1994’s It Takes a Thief, features the party anthem “Fantastic Voyage.” The single peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of the year’s biggest songs. • He recorded the 1995 song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” featuring R&B singer LV, for the film Dangerous Minds. Built on a sample from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 classic “Pastime Paradise,” the somber single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and earned Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. • The rapper’s 1995 sophomore album, also titled Gangsta’s Paradise, spawned another Top 5 pop hit: “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New).” • Coolio’s third album, 1997’s My Soul, yielded his fourth and final Top 20 hit, “C U When U Get There.” • Although none of his subsequent albums have made much impact on the charts, Coolio has branched off into film acting, reality TV, and cooking.

August 1, 1963
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