Music News

Happy Birthday, Coolio!

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the birth of Artis Leon Ivey Jr., the rapper, Celebreality star, and Juggalo known as the immortal Coolio. 

"Gangsta's Paradise" was one of the most infectious film tie-in slash summer jams of the '90s (see also: Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" and the essential soundtrack to the movie Bulworth) and landed the MC the 1996 Grammy for Best Rap performance. 

Though he's made some questionable choices along the way -- most notably his slumming it as a VH1 bottom feeder and a questionable Juggalo allegiance that drove him to permanently mar his body with a typo -- we still salute Coolio for the highly memorable tunes.

The year is 1995, and the following is inescapable: Coolio, Michelle Pfeiffer, the box office smash Dangerous Minds, and the lead single to that film's soundtrack, "Gangsta's Paradise."

Pfeiffer appeared in the song's music video, which was also adapted into a commercial to promote the album and film. The song's pop-culture ubiquity inspired veteran parody artist Weird Al Yonkovic to produce one his own all-time classics, "Amish Paradise," which Coolio was a big cranky baby about, arguing that the song was too serious to poke fun at. 

While "1-2-3-4 (Sumpin' New)," the follow-up to "Gangsta's Paradise," wasn't as big of a hit, we appreciate the jam's classically funky instrumental and Coolio's clear-and-crisp old-school intonation. Dude was dropping feel-good BBQ bangers during the most heated years of '90s gangsta rap!

So, you know what, Coolio? Even though you were sort of a less-fun Flavor Flav on The Surreal Life, and you not only got an Insane Clown Posse tattoo but are apparently so thoroughly a Juggalo that you don't even know how to spell it, we still love you.

The music of Coolio lives on forever! Happy Birthday, Artis!

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Matt Preira