This Day in Black History: Rapper Coolio was born

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On August 1, 1963, beloved rapper Coolio was born Artis Leon Ivey Jr. in a small town in Pennsylvania. 

After moving to Compton, where his rap career began, he gained notoriety in hip-hop as part of the Los Angeles-based group WC and the Maad Circle in the early ’90s.

Coolio went on to achieve mainstream success with his albums It Takes a Thief, released in 1994, and Gangsta’s Paradise and My Soul, released in 1995.

Regarded as one of his most well-known songs, Coolio recorded “Gangster Paradise” for the 1995 film Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. It later became one of the most popular rap songs of all time. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and ended 1995 as the number one single in the United States that year.

Following his death on September 28, 2022, from effects of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamines, Pfeiffer shared a tribute to the late rapper on social media. 

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio. A life cut entirely too short,” she wrote in the Instagram note. 

In addition to several other hits, including 1994’s “Fantastic Voyage,” “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New)” and “It’s All the Way Live (Now),” he also provided the opening track for the 1996 Nickelodeon television series Kenan & Kel, “Aw, Here It Goes!”

August 1, 2023, would have marked Coolio’s 60th birthday.

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