Artis Ivey, 1 August 1963, Compton, Los Angeles, California, USA. Boasting a long, though infrequently recorded, career in hip-hop, rapper Coolio's career finally took off after attending rehabilitation classes in an attempt to kick his cocaine habit. Coolio started making music again with WC And The MADD Circle, contributing to their 1991 release, Ain't A Damn Thang Changed (he would also perform on one track on their belated follow-up, 1995's Curb Servin'). He then joined the 40 Thevz, a hip-hop community made up of producers, rappers and dancers who would collaborate with him on all his recordings. Along with his friend DJ Bryan "Wino" Dobbs, Coolio signed to Tommy Boy Records who released the single "County Line" about his experiences on welfare assistance. "Fantastic Voyage", based on Lakeside's 1980 hit, became a Top 5 single, and Coolio's profile was further enhanced by an autumn tour with R&B megastar R. Kelly.
It Takes A Thief was a major seller, going platinum and establishing Coolio at the forefront of mid-90s hip-hop. "Gangsta's Paradise", taken from his sophomore album of the same name, was a resigned lament performed with the gospel singer L.V. and a full choir that sampled Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise". The single, featured in the movie Dangerous Minds, went to number 1 in the US and the UK. In the UK this was the first time anything approaching true "street rap" had achieved such sales. As the music business magazine Music Week commented, "in Britain for such a record to reach number one is quite sensational". The song won a Grammy in 1996 for Best Rap Solo Performance. My Soul, which included the hit single "C U When U Get There", was another downbeat collection that confirmed Coolio as one of hip-hop's most interesting artists. He subsequently set up his own Crowbar label and concentrated on an acting career.